Could a cancer diagnosis lead to significant debt?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2023 | Bankruptcy

The financial cost of being diagnosed with cancer is going to depend, to some degree, and the type of cancer that the doctor finds. For example, minor skin cancer may just take a few meetings with a dermatologist to get it surgically removed. Significant lung cancer could take months or even years of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Much like the prognosis for cancer can be different from one type to the next, so can the cost.

But if you’ve gotten this diagnosis, you may feel that you are unprepared for the amount of money it’s going to cost. Is it going to lead to a significant amount of debt?

Most patients have medical debt

At 51%, a slight majority of patients who have been diagnosed with cancer do have medical debt. The study that uncovered this noted that about 35% were currently in debt at the time that they provided the answer. Another 9% expected to have debt in the future, while 16% had previously held debt that had either been forgiven or paid off.

This debt can be significant. In fact, roughly 22% of those who responded had to pay more than $10,000. Two-thirds of those asked about their debt said it lasted for over 12 months, and more than a quarter – 28% – said that it persisted for over three years.

Resolving medical debt

As this shows, it is likely that someone who has been diagnosed with cancer is going to have some amount of debt, and it may be more than they can afford to pay. This can be true even for those who have insurance. Medical debt is one of the top reasons that people file bankruptcy every year, and those in this position need to know what steps to take.