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Cancer may cause bankruptcy

When people think of the reasons a person has to file bankruptcy, many probably think of profligate spending with a credit card as a primary cause. While credit cards can contribute to the creation of overwhelming debt, a more frequent cause is the financial disaster that accompanies severe medical problems. In a very short time, medical expenses and bills can swamp the average person's ability to pay, leaving no way out but bankruptcy.

As evidence, a recent study has found that cancer patients are 2.5 times as likely to file for bankruptcy protection. The report indicated that the bankruptcy rate of younger patients were up to 10 times higher than older patients. The researcher attributed this to the younger patients having lower income, fewer assets and less likely to work in jobs that offer insurance.

If you have a serious medical condition, like cancer, even if you have insurance, it may not be enough. The financial crisis is a result of the high cost of medical treatment, and the fact that many people may lose their jobs when they have an illness like cancer, where treatment can last months.

Many people may work for businesses that do not offer long-term disability insurance as an option and a great deal of entry-level positions may not even offer health insurance.

While some hope that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will provide some assistance, for patients with catastrophic illnesses, it is likely that the coverage will be insufficient.

For those struggling with both an illness and the economic stress that accompanies serious medical conditions, discuss your situation with a bankruptcy attorney, who can help you develop plan that may be able to deal with financial issues. 

Source: NBCNews.com, "Cancer increases bankruptcy risk, even for insured," Barbara Mantel, May 15, 2013

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