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Bankruptcy and debt for some U.S. cancer patients

Residents of New Hampshire might be interested in how many Americans are facing sky-high medical bills on top of having cancer. Money problems are plaguing a third of U.S. cancer survivors, according to two new reports. Numerous cancer patients have reported having to alter their medical care and lifestyles because of the high cost of their cancer treatment. A meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology was held in Boston on Oct. 21, and these findings were introduced at that time.

Almost 1,600 cancer survivors were involved in the survey. The findings included the fact that 27 percent suffered at least one financial hardship like bankruptcy or debt. Thirty-seven percent reported delaying retirement, taking extended time off, or making work changes due to cancer care requirements. Problems such as these were most prevalent in patients from racial or ethnic minorities, young patients, patients with no insurance and women, according to the study.

The study also showed that 39 percent of cancer survivors were five plus years post-treatment, 46 percent were less than five years, and 14 percent were still receiving active treatment. Survivors who were under the age of 65 had double the financial problems of those over 65. In addition, financial problems were 42 percent higher for non-whites than for whites and 67 percent higher for the uninsured, according to the study results.

Many cancer patients are uninsured or have an insurance policy that doesn't cover all of their medical expenses. People who are struggling to keep up with payments on their medical bills could feel helpless and confused. A bankruptcy lawyer, who deals on a daily basis with medical debt, could help patients by giving them advice regarding their rights as a debtor and negotiating possible settlements on the outstanding debt.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Many Americans in Debt, Bankruptcy Paying for Cancer Care", Robert Preidt, October 22, 2014

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