Study: People with cancer more likely to file for bankruptcy

Financial strain is one of the most common stressors that people in New Jersey and across the country often face. The anxiety of missing a mortgage payment or the instability of losing a job is enough to make anyone concerned about their finances. But for people diagnosed with cancer, these financial struggles are more than many are prepared to, or should have to, deal with.

A recent study suggests that people with cancer are more likely to file for bankruptcy than those who do not have cancer. The study looked at 197,840 people on a cancer registry list and compared them with the same number and type of people who are cancer-free. The results indicated that patients who have cancer are about 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy.

The study highlights the fact that people with serious illnesses often have astronomical medical costs to deal with. Testing, diagnostics and treatment can be expensive and people rarely have the assets, income or insurance to cover all these costs.

It makes sense, then, that researchers report that young women were the most likely to file for bankruptcy out of the group. Younger people typically have less money saved up, fewer assets and are in entry level jobs with insufficient insurance coverage. On the other hand, patients who are 65 and older were the least likely to file for bankruptcy protection because they generally have more substantial wealth and are likely eligible for Medicare and other assistance programs. People with cancer, and other serious illnesses, also struggle financially if they are no longer able to work and get a paycheck.

The financial stress can be incredibly difficult to deal with, on top of serious health issues. Financial stability is certainly important but it should not come at the expense of a person’s wellbeing. Finding debt relief solutions, whether that includes bankruptcy or other alternatives, can be very beneficial for people who should be able to focus on their health. By prioritizing bills, reorganizing debt or requesting loan deferrals, people in this difficult situation can bring a sense of control back into their lives.

Source: NBC News, “Cancer increases bankruptcy risk, even for insured,” Barbara Mantel, May 15, 2013

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Attorney Joel R. Spivack is an experienced bankruptcy and residential real estate transactions lawyer in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Clients come to us for legal services, but what we really provide is peace of mind. For more than 30 years, Attorney Spivack has helped people make wise, informed decisions about bankruptcy filings, debt relief options and residential real estate transactions.
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