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Cancer patients often battle medical debt along with the illness

Cancer is one of  those words that strikes fear in the heart of every patient who hears it. What many probably don't consider is that the medical debt that can result is often as financially devastating as the physical harm. Washington families may be struggling to recover from the effects of the disease as well as the monetary fallout in its wake.

The National Institutes of Health estimated that cancer treatment costs over $216 billion annually. An individual can easily find his or her share of the debt to exceed $10,000. For patients who are diagnosed at a younger age or whose disease had progressed beyond the earlier stages, the costs can easily eclipse that estimate. The rate of survival beyond five years is an estimated 68 percent. However, the percentage of patients who required financial assistance to handle the medical costs was close to equal at 62 percent.

Almost all of the patients who were questioned about the financial side of treatment claimed that the costs were much higher than they were prepared to handle. Indeed, nearly a quarter of American households find themselves unable to pay some form of medical expense. Having health insurance is not a guarantee that health care costs won't be a problem, as studies have shown that 75 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy protection from medical bills reportedly had insurance coverage.

Statistically, every family in Washington can expect to face some type of emergency, whether it be a health crisis caused by a cancer diagnosis or something else. Understandably, no one can predict what the future holds, and even an emergency savings account may fall far short of covering unavoidable expenses. Families that find themselves heavily burdened by medical debt may benefit from researching the options provided by a bankruptcy filing in order to relieve the overwhelming stress created by insurmountable debt.

Source: Fox Business, "They Beat Cancer, But Can They Beat Medical Debt Now?", , Oct. 1, 2014

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