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Study Finds Link Between Cancer and Bankruptcy

According to a new study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, people diagnosed with cancer are nearly three times as likely to declare bankruptcy than those without cancer. The study authors also found that younger cancer patients had two- to five-times higher bankruptcy rates than older patients, and that overall bankruptcy filings increased as time passed following a cancer diagnosis. If you are struggling with overwhelming debt, including costly medical bills, consult our reputable attorneys to discuss your legal options. You may be eligible for bankruptcy protection, in which you can discharge your debt or reorganize it into a manageable repayment plan. Our lawyers have extensive experience helping Oklahomans file for bankruptcy, and can help you make the best decision for your financial situation.

Medical Bills Leading to Financial Hardship

The bankruptcy study, led by internist and health economist Scott Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., was launched in an effort to better understand the relationship between receiving a cancer diagnosis and bankruptcy, while the more general link between costly medical bills and the likelihood of bankruptcy filing is well-documented in research. “This study found strong evidence of a link between cancer diagnosis and increased risk of bankruptcy,” the researchers wrote. “Although the risk of bankruptcy for cancer patients is relatively low in absolute terms, bankruptcy represents an extreme manifestation of what is probably a larger picture of economic hardship for cancer patients. Our study thus raises important questions about the factors underlying the relationship between cancer and financial hardship.”

In the study, Ramsey and colleagues examined data from a population-wide registry of individuals over the age of 21, who lived in western Washington and who received a cancer diagnosis between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 2009. These participants were then compared to a randomly sampled sex-, age- and ZIP code-matched population of people without cancer. The cancer cases were identified using a population-based cancer registry based at Fred Hutch called the Cancer Surveillance System of Western Washington. The cancer and control cohorts were both linked to the records of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington, which serves 19 counties in western Washington, including all 13 counties represented in the Cancer Surveillance System.

Contact Our Skilled Bankruptcy Attorneys for Legal Help

According to the study’s finding, there were 197,840 people diagnosed with cancer in western Washington between 1995 and 2009 who were included in the study, and 4,408 (2.2%) filed for bankruptcy protection after receiving the diagnosis. Of the control participants not diagnosed with cancer, 2,291 (1.1%) filed for bankruptcy. In analyzing their findings, the researchers concluded that, because cancer is typically a sudden and unexpected event, its connection to bankruptcy is likely influenced by factors such as debt load before diagnosis, presence of health and disability insurance, assets, number of dependent children, and household income at the time of diagnosis. If you are struggling with exorbitant medical bills or another form of overwhelming debt in Oklahoma, contact our lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center today to discuss the benefits of filing for Oklahoma bankruptcy.

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