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Study: Cancer Patients’ Risk of Bankruptcy Double, Even With Insurance

A new study conducted by researchers in Washington state reveals that cancer patients were more than twice as likely to file for bankruptcy than those who had never been treated for cancer.
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Our Boston asbestos litigation lawyers know that the financial burden tends to be higher for those who suffer from rare and aggressive forms of cancer, such as mesothelioma. Their treatments, medications and procedures are often more intensive, invasive and ultimately more expensive than more common types of cancer.

Part of that has to do with the fact that when a cancer is commonplace, the drugs are mass-produced, more readily available – sometimes even in generic form – and ultimately cheaper. Also, treatments and surgeries for common cancers may be less expensive because more physicians and surgeons are trained to conduct them, whereas mesothelioma patients may need to seek out skilled specialists whose services may not be as readily available.

Most cancer patients have nothing to blame but bad genetic luck for their misfortune. Mesothelioma patients, however, can always point to a specific cause: asbestos. In many cases, patients can even identify exactly when they were exposed. Often (though not always), it was an occupational exposure, stemming from work in shipyards or construction or other industrial occupations. Many of the firms that produced asbestos-laden products knew that they were dangerous, and yet did nothing to alter the product or warn those who regularly used them. Nor did they provide appropriate protections that might have shielded victims from inhaling the deadly fibers.

It is primarily for this reason that mesothelioma sufferers should seek compensation through civil litigation or a claim to one of the several dozen asbestos bankruptcy trusts. Holding these firms accountable continues to be of great importance.

But so too is the financial solvency of your family and those you will leave behind. Spouses of mesothelioma victims can be left not only with the devastating loss of their life partner, but many times, they are left to cope with financial ruin.

According to this study, published in the journal Health Affairs, the researchers mined data from some 400,000 adults, who were evenly split between those who had been treated for cancer and those who had never had cancer. The researchers then cross-referenced that information with bankruptcy filings between 1995 and 2009. Those who had cancer were 2.5 times more likely to endure a bankruptcy during that time frame.

The study didn’t break down which of those cancer sufferers had insurance, but there has been prior research that strongly suggests that many of those who cite significant health issues as the catalyst for their bankruptcy filing did have health insurance.

The greater disparities are reportedly seen when the information is broken down by demographics. For example, minority patients were more likely to suffer a bankruptcy than their white counterparts.

The release of the study coincided with an effort to reduce the cost of cancer drugs, with more than 100 doctors criticizing Big Pharma firms for making critical cancer drugs too pricey for most people to afford.

Certain federal budget cuts have also forced some cancer patients to delay important treatments.

Time is something many mesothelioma patients don’t have in great supply.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Americans Who Battle Cancer Are Twice As Likely To Go Bankrupt, Even If They Have Health Insurance, May 16, 2013, By Tara Culp-Ressler, ThinkProgress.org

More Blog Entries:
Bondex Attempt to Limit Asbestos Liability Rejected by Judge, June 3, 2013, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog