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Study shows nexus between cancer victims, bankruptcy filings

Ample evidence exists showing that medical debt is a factor closely tied to bankruptcy. A new study involving scrutiny of persons diagnosed with cancer shows an especially close correlation between a cancer diagnosis and a subsequent Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.

The study has been termed important by commentators who note its duration, the number of adults studied and the "quality" databases from which information was culled. The inquiry was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Medical doctor and Ph.D. Scott Ramsey, the lead study author, believes that the work of his team offers "the strongest evidence we have between a disease and risk for severe financial distress." The study looked at cancer patients over a 15-year period, comparing them with a control group of cancer-free adults. The conclusion: Adults with a cancer diagnosis are about two and a half times more likely to file for bankruptcy than are adults without cancer.

One commentator on the study noted the many financial stresses that follow for many people diagnosed with cancer. Those can include a loss of or cut back in hours of employment, which in turn can lead to a loss of important insurance benefits.

"It isn't necessarily just one giant catastrophic medical bill," she says. "It is death by a thousand cuts."

Many people go far toward exhausting their life savings and losing all their assets before considering bankruptcy. That is, flatly and tragically, unnecessary in many instances, since a fresh start in bankruptcy often enables a person to retain much of what he or she has worked a lifetime to obtain.

It is far better to contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney sooner than later in any instance where bankruptcy is being considered. Many people who do so are happily surprised by the results.

Source: Medscape, "Bankruptcy rate doubles with cancer diagnosis," Nick Mulcahy, May 15, 2013

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