Science

Cancer Patients At A Greater Risk Of Bankruptcy, Even With Insurance

By Enozia Vakil , May 17, 2013 08:11 AM EDT
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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and tremendous research and studies could not seem to wear it down, making it one of the most feared health conditions ever. As if that wasn't enough, there's yet another reason to fear getting affected by cancer.

A new study from Health Affairs suggests that cancer patients are 2.56 times more likely to go bankrupt than other people who do not suffer from this disease. Excluding people under 21 years of age, this study closely monitored people diagnosed with cancer from 1995 through 2006. These cancer patients were then matched with their counterparts who didn't suffer from cancer, and were observed for both-liquidated assets, and their repayment needs.

Over 197,840 people were taken under this research, after which, around 2.2 percent filed for a bankruptcy protection against their diagnosis.

Dr. Scott Ramsey, the lead author of the survey, told sources that the United States has a responsibility to "look into why this happening and see if there is something we as a society can do to reduce that risk."

Also, this study revealed that young females diagnosed with cancer were more likely to file a bankruptcy protection as opposed to older individuals, probably from their lack of access to medical insurances. It is speculated that the low bankruptcy filings among older individuals may be due to their Medicare and Social Security safety nets.

This higher risk of getting bankrupt is estimated to be 10 times more than the older patients suffering from cancer, the study shows.

"Patients who have fewer assets, less income and less generous insurance because of entry-level jobs or no insurance are more vulnerable to severe financial distress," Ramsey explained.

Furthermore, the study also revealed that the rates of bankruptcy among cancer patients varied; depending upon the type of cancer they were suffering from. Higher rates of bankruptcy were noted among patients suffering from thyroid cancer in particular.

"Three-quarters of people who say that illness was a major factor in their bankruptcy had private health insurance, at least when they first got sick," Dr. David Himmelstein, said. 

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