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Study: higher incidence of bankruptcy following bills related to cancer

A recent study was presented this week before the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting. Researchers found that cancer survivors were nearly twice as likely to file bankruptcy within one year after their diagnosis as the general population. An experienced Cincinnati bankruptcy attorney can tell you that medical bills are a common reason people seek chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy protection.

Dr. Scott Ramsey, a health care economist and internist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center says the "risk of bankruptcy for cancer survivors is not well known." He says individuals "diagnosed with cancer may face significant financial stress due to income loss and out-of-pocket costs associated with their treatment."

According to the study, patients with lung cancer, thyroid cancer and leukemia are among the most common cancer patients that seek bankruptcy relief. People over the age of 65 are less likely to seek bankruptcy relief after a diagnosis than younger cancer patients. The researchers believe the availability of Medicare influences the lessened risk of bankruptcy for older cancer patients.

The study compared U.S. bankruptcy court records with cancer registry data from nearly 232,000 cancer survivors over a 14 year period. According to the study, bankruptcy rates quadrupled within five years of a cancer diagnosis, with a median time of 2.5 years for cancer patients to seek bankruptcy relief.

Medical bills can plague many people in Ohio. It is not only cancer patients who see the high costs of medical treatment placing strains upon a family budget.

Source: US News and World Report, "Bankruptcy Risk Nearly Doubles in Year After Cancer Diagnosis," 8 Jun 2011

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