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Cancer survivors likely to have more medical debt

Anyone in Virginia who has to deal with an unexpected illness may have issues with medical debt at some point. However, financial burdens related to cancer can be even greater, especially for younger survivors. Research presented in a peer-reviewed journal further notes that privately insured cancer survivors with high-deductible plans but no health savings accounts were even more likely to face financial hardship related to medical expenses.

The study didn't focus on Chapter 13 bankruptcy although this a remedy some individuals with substantial medical debt consider. Researchers compared more than 10,000 adults with a history of cancer and nearly 125,000 individuals without a history of having this condition. The biggest difference among the two groups was with material hardship, e.g. difficulty paying medical bills, which was more likely to be a problem for cancer survivors among all age groups from 18 on up. Psychological and behavioral hardships were also somewhat higher among cancer survivors.

Another significant finding from the study was that medical financial hardship was likely to be less of a burden for cancer survivors with low deductible insurance. As for why younger cancer survivors between the ages of 18 and 49 are more likely to be impacted, one theory is that they haven't had time to accumulate the financial assets older patients tend to have at their disposal. They could also have disruptions in employer coverage due to missed work days. Researchers hope that health policymakers will be mindful of their results and make an effort to ease financial burdens for cancer survivors as much as possible.

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy isn't meant to be the first attempt at dealing with significant medical debt. However, if a cancer survivor or any other individual with medical-related financial obligations has failed to find a way to cover their expenses without experiencing major hardship, a lawyer may help them weigh the pros and cons of bankruptcy. If it's decided to proceed with Chapter 13, a lawyer may also assist with the required paperwork. However, secured and unsecured debt can't exceed certain amounts.

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