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Steep medical debt often inevitable for cancer patients

Cancer is one of the most devastating and ravaging diseases that a person can face, and the treatment process is often long and difficult with no guarantee of recovery. However, with the advent of modern technology and more tailored treatment regimens, many cancer victims do end up beating their disease and moving forward to live full, successful lives. And for that, most survivors in Washington are burdened with insurmountable medical debt.

The number of available treatment options is not the only thing that has risen for cancer patients over recent years. The cost of treating cancer has undeniably skyrocketed, outpacing the rise in other health care costs by up to threefold. So just how steep is the cost? Those needing treatment typically accumulate anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000 every single month. With most courses of treatments lasting for months on end, those suffering from cancer are often faced with an unimaginable choice -- bury themselves in debt that they will never be able to overcome, or simply succumb to their disease.

According to a 2012 survey, a third of cancer survivors between the ages of 18 and 64 were left in debt because of treatment. Of those, the majority still owe well over $10,000. Another study demonstrated a depressing statistic -- any person with a history of cancer is twice as likely to require bankruptcy for debt relief. Virtually all cancer patients face the risk of taking on financial burdens simply related to their illness.

Accumulating vast amounts of debt simply for becoming ill and seeking necessary treatments is an unfortunate and exceptionally difficult situation. Medical debt can be some of the most difficult circumstances to labor under, and many Washington patients feel wrought with guilt as they struggle to repay the debt. With the unprecedented rise in health care costs and expenses over the previous years, debt relief through bankruptcy is often necessary in order for people to continue on with healthy and fulfilling lives after surviving cancer and other deadly diseases.

Source: NBC News, "Debt, Bankruptcy are Rewards for Cancer Survivors", Jan. 5, 2016

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