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Cancer patients face mounting debts

As many people in Ohio may know, many cancer survivors, especially younger individuals, may face years of debt due to medical treatment expenses. According to a study presented at a recent meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, approximately 33 percent of cancer patients who were surveyed reported being faced with large medical bills.

The study was conducted among 1,600 individuals who had received treatment for cancer. Participants in the study reported 27 percent faced bankruptcy or high medical debt while 37 percent had to delay retirement or take extended leave because of cancer treatments. The study participants included 14 percent who were in treatment, 46 percent whose treatment ended less than five years ago and the remainder whose treatment ended more than five years ago. The individuals currently under treatment reported financial hardship at twice the rate of earlier survivors.

Another study was conducted among 174 survivors of colon, breast or other tumorous cancers. All the members of the study had health insurance and applied for assistance in paying their debts. Of the survivors, 89 percent reported having to make lifestyle changes that included less money for leisure activities, clothing and food or savings. The study noted that 39 percent of the cancer patients found it necessary to cut back on medical care, including filling prescriptions and taking less than the prescribed doses.

According to the study, financial difficulties due to cancer and cancer treatments impacted those over 65 half as much as those under 65, and 67 percent of uninsured patients faced more financial hardship than patients with insurance. An individual faced with high medical bills may wish to speak to a bankruptcy attorney about available debt relief options. The attorney can offer insight into the advisability of discharging debt through bankruptcy as one possible alternative.

Source: HealthDay, "Many Americans in Debt, Bankruptcy Paying for Cancer Care", Robert Preidt, October 22, 2014

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