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Bankruptcy rates higher for filers diagnosed with cancer

Cancer is a devastating diagnosis. An individual often thinks primarily of the health ramifications of being diagnosed with cancer: Is it treatable? Will I lose my hair? What about my family?

A question fewer individuals initially consider is: Can I afford cancer? This seems like a foolish question, but a significant number of individuals in New Jersey find themselves facing debt that feels insurmountable after they fall ill. We have previously discussed that many victims of financial struggle are pushed into bankruptcy because of medical debt.

Further, there are significant financial strains secondary to treatment that can come along with a cancer diagnosis. An individual could lose their job and lose their insurance coverage, which only compounds the financial struggle.

A recent study reflects this troubling fact. The study concluded that victims of cancer file for bankruptcy at a rate 2.65 times higher than the rate that individuals without cancer file. Within that population of individuals struck with cancer, younger adults in particular are most vulnerable to financial ruin.

However, many will resist filing for bankruptcy. An expert in this matter says that she sees a troubling pattern where young individuals will dig themselves into a deeper hole to avoid bankruptcy. "They will sell property, deplete all savings, borrow from family and friends. Years later, they may ultimately have to file anyway."

An individual struggling with cancer and debt deserves help. An attorney can assist an individual struggling with cancer or in remission secure all the protection bankruptcy has to offer to start fresh. Cancer can lay claim to enough of an individual's life, it should not lay claim to their financial health too.

Source: Medscape, "Bankruptcy Rates Double With Cancer Diagnosis," Nick Mulcahy, May 15, 2013

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