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When even insured adults may have debt after beating cancer

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2022 | Bankruptcy

Health insurance makes it easier to absorb the unexpected costs that can come from a sudden accident or a newly-developed medical condition. Most people expect that their health insurance coverage will take care of them, at least in the event of some kind of catastrophic health issue.

Cancer is a perfect example. Even if someone does have a deductible to pay, they will expect that insurance will cover the rest of their care costs once they contribute the several thousand dollars required by the deductible on their policy.

Unfortunately, some patients who recently beat cancer will eventually realize that they have more medical debt than they will be able to pay off in the foreseeable future. How can you end up with so much debt when you have health insurance?

Deductibles are only one kind of cost-sharing

Insurance companies pass a surprising amount of your care costs to you as the patient. In addition to the obligation to pay thousands of dollars for care to meet your deductible, you may also need to pay a copay at every appointment. For each medication that you receive or each treatment session, you will have to pay a copay. That could add up to hundreds of dollars a week if you have multiple medications and frequent office visits.

Even more concerning is co-insurance. Co-insurance on your policy could pass a flat percentage of your care costs back to you. Some people pay as much as 30% of the total cost of their medical treatment and coinsurance.

Finally, experimental and cutting-edge treatments may not be eligible for insurance coverage at all. Individuals hoping to be part of a study for a new drug or to try the best immunotherapies available may learn that their insurance provider doesn’t cover that treatment. They may have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for that care.

Financial issues are common after cancer

The vast majority of people treated for cancer eventually face some kind of collection activity or at least have large outstanding bills with the medical facilities providing their care. Often, those debts culminate in bankruptcy because the cancer patient has also been out of work while racking up those massive medical bills. People who survive cancer are 2.5 times as likely as the average individual to file for bankruptcy.

They may have hundreds of thousands of dollars in unsecured medical debts that they need to discharge because they don’t have the resources to pay those debts in full. If you or a loved one recently battled cancer, the whole family may struggle financially for years unless you take control of those obligations. Understanding the correlation between cancer and personal bankruptcy could help you protect your health by reducing your financial stress.