Medical Expenses: Top Cause of Bankruptcy in the United Statesposted on 10/13/2011 by Brennan Keller
This year in the United States an estimated 1.6 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many will attribute this financial misfortune to fiscal irresponsibility or indulgence in a lifestyle beyond ones means, but a new study done by Harvard University suggests that more than 62% of all personal bankruptcies are caused by the cost of over-whelming medical expenses.
Of the most financially devastating diseases, cancer reigns supreme. The American Cancer Society estimates that the 2010 total cost of cancer in the U.S. rose to $263.8 billion. So perhaps unsurprisingly, a new study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center shows a close link between cancer diagnosis and personal bankruptcy. Compared to the general population, bankruptcy rates are nearly twice as high among cancer patients one year after diagnosis. Of the bankruptcies caused by a cancer, a surprising 78% reported having some form of health insurance, de-bunking the myth that medical bills only really affect the uninsured.
According to Duke University Medical Center, the average out-of-pocket cost for cancer patients is currently $1,266 per month. Medical bills for these patients can quickly wipe out retirement accounts, college savings funds, and home equity. Once a patient’s savings have been exhausted bankruptcy may be their only refuge.
Cancer costs billions of dollars each year, but it also can cost us the people we love the most. Eliminating the financial barriers a cancer patient faces can often be vital to their survival. The fact that 62% of all bankruptcies are caused by medical expenses is scary to us at GiveForward. This is why our goal has always been to empower the community to come together and help alleviate the financial burden due to medical bills and cancer treatments.
Cancer takes a heavy toll on our health, our emotions, and our wallets. What can you do to help? To combat the costs of cancer treatments and the risk of bankruptcy create a GiveForward page for a friend or family member in need or consider donating to one of the many fundraisers on our site today.