Getting Your Finances Back On Track

3 reasons those who beat cancer may file for bankruptcy

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | Bankruptcy

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States. People may start presenting symptoms with little forewarning and then may decline rapidly without treatment. Those who receive an accurate diagnosis may undergo surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy and even cutting-edge immunotherapies to achieve remission.

Advances in modern medicine have made more forms of treatment available and improved survival rates for many previously deadly forms of cancer. Unfortunately, many people learn after completing treatment that they have additional struggles ahead. Those who undergo cancer treatment may eventually need to file for personal bankruptcy. More than half of those who undergo cancer treatment report high levels of debt afterward.

Why do those who have beaten cancer often need help handling their medical debts?

Medical creditors can be quite aggressive

After receiving treatment at a hospital or infusion clinic for months, a patient may think fondly of a business. However kind the workers were, the business still views the patient as a source of revenue. Hospitals and other medical businesses often sue patients who fall behind on payment plans or whose insurance cannot cover the full cost of their care. Those lawsuits can lead to wage garnishments or leans against someone’s home. Bankruptcy may be the only way to prevent a lawsuit related to medical debt from causing additional financial hardship.

Cancer care can be prohibitively expensive

The best forms of cancer treatment available may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. People may pay more than half a million dollars for a bone marrow transplant using immunotherapy, for example. Even new drugs may carry six-figure price tags. Insurance does not necessarily cover the best treatments. Even if insurance does cover modern therapies, there may be a large deductible or coinsurance obligation that falls to the patient. Someone diagnosed with cancer in their 40s could spend the rest of their working life paying off medical debt without actually fully paying what they owe.

Cancer can reduce earning potential

Someone who has just completed cancer treatment may have been away from their job for months. In some cases, employers may terminate workers because they cannot accommodate long-term absences while they undergo treatment. Even if a worker retains their job, they may struggle to continue advancing their career immediately after completing treatment. A long-term leave of absence can slow someone’s career advancement and stagnate their wages. The unfortunate reality is that cancer creates a perfect storm in which people have limited income, major debts and aggressive creditors willing to take them to court.

Filing for personal bankruptcy can help those dealing with cancer-related debt. The discharge of medical debts can help people bounce back from the financial hardship caused by their cancer treatment.