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Bankruptcy can help alleviate financial stress on cancer patients

It should come as no surprise to many Americans that contracting a disease like cancer can mean fundamental changes to one's fiscal landscape. In fact, it has been suggested that people in Michigan and elsewhere suffering from cancer may find themselves in considerably more financial distress than is average for their age groups. However, there are many possible steps that can be taken to help alleviate those financial burdens, including the possibility of filing for bankruptcy.

Studies suggest that cancer patients are two-and-a-half times more likely than healthy individuals to struggle with their finances. Young women with thyroid cancer seem to be the most at-risk group, possibly because Medicaid and other support is available for older people, and thyroid problems tend to manifest earlier in life. The limitations of medical insurance also play a role in this trend, given a positive cancer diagnosis can take considerable time and require many tests to validate, all of which cost money.

It is hoped that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may help to mitigate the financial burden on patients suffering from cancer, but in the meantime, steps can be taken to help alleviate debt. Reviewing one's health insurance plan is a good place to start, as is asking about disability plans available through the workplace. Prioritizing day-to-day bills and asking for deferrals on outstanding loans like credit cards and mortgages can also be of benefit. Finally, filing for bankruptcy is also an option that can help to reorder finances and consolidate in the face of a potentially costly diagnosis.

A cancer diagnosis can be a devastating blow, but it does not have to mean the end of financial security. Following steps to mitigate debt and other outstanding balances can help Michigan residents facing down cancer to emerge more financially stable on the other end of treatment. Filing for bankruptcy can be a valuable tool in reaching that goal.

Source: msnbc.com, "Cancer increases bankruptcy risk, even for insured," Barbara Mantel, May 15, 2013

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