Bankruptcy, Medical Bills, and the Effects of a Cancer Diagnosis

A recent study released by an academic medical journal explains the effect that a cancer diagnosis can have on a patient’s financial situation, and how bankruptcies that are filed immediately after a diagnosis can result in the patient receiving poorer treatment and possibly having an increased risk of mortality from the illness. The results of the study demonstrate that it is essential for our aging population to get their credit under control before they get sick, although it is also important to realize that any matter of medical bills and debts incurred can be discharged with a bankruptcy.

one-dollar-bill-1487099The Results of the Study

The study, released in early 2016 in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, was commissioned as a follow-up to a previous study that showed that a cancer diagnosis increased the risk of a patient filing for bankruptcy by 250%, and it sought to determine if a patient’s filing for bankruptcy increased or decreased their risk of cancer survival. After analyzing data from approximately 230,000 individuals diagnosed with cancer, the study found that those who filed for bankruptcy after their cancer diagnosis were more likely to die from the cancer than those who did not file for bankruptcy.

These results don’t necessarily demonstrate that filing for bankruptcy on its own increases the likelihood for patients to die, since the patients who did not file for bankruptcy generally had more financial resources available to obtain the best treatment possible. With many other patients, however, it could be argued that without bankruptcy protection they would have been unable to obtain any serious treatment whatsoever and could have died sooner.

The Best Cancer Care Is Expensive and Often Requires Good Credit

One takeaway from the study is that the type of care that most increases the likelihood of a patient’s survival is usually very expensive, and it must be paid for in advance or upon reliable credit. When a patient files for bankruptcy immediately after their diagnosis, their credit is not strong during the pendency of the bankruptcy proceeding, and the best care may not be available. Many of these patients would not be extended credit before their bankruptcy either because of existing debts in default and poor credit. These facts taken together show a serious need for at-risk patients to have their credit under control, hopefully well before receiving any kind of serious diagnosis.

Bankruptcy Can Be Used to Repair Credit

The study did not address patients who filed for bankruptcy months or years before being diagnosed with cancer, and it could be argued that a patient who addressed their debts and got their finances back on track prior to receiving the diagnosis would be in a strong position to afford the best care available. For this reason, everyone should address their credit issues as soon as possible, since it may be too late if they wait to receive a diagnosis to file for bankruptcy.

Patients who have already been diagnosed with cancer and are considering bankruptcy may still be in a position to use bankruptcy to increase their chance of survival and their ability to repay their debts after receiving treatment. Medical bills are generally dischargeable in a bankruptcy, so patients who have survived but are left with crippling debt may find relief through a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding. It is essential for anybody considering bankruptcy to consult with a skilled bankruptcy attorney to review their financial options.

Are You Considering Bankruptcy?

If you or a loved one is struggling with debt and medical expenses and has been considering bankruptcy, the skilled Louisville and Southern Indiana bankruptcy attorneys at the Schwartz Bankruptcy Law Center will work hard for you to help you get on the road to financial independence. At the Schwartz Bankruptcy Law Center, our attorneys and staff advise and represent clients in various bankruptcy proceedings. With our experience and knowledge, you can decide what works best for you and get on track to become financially independent. Call 866-366-3328 to schedule a risk-free consultation today, or contact us through our online form.

More Blog Posts:

Ex-NFL Player Clinton Portis Using Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to Address $5 Million in Debt, Kentucky Bankruptcy Lawyers Blog, published January 13, 2016.

Court Lifts Automatic Stay in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Proceeding Based Upon Accusations of Fraud, Kentucky Bankruptcy Lawyers Blog, published December 26, 2015.

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