Unmanageable debt among cancer’s many side effects

About four in every 10 Americans owes money on a medical debt, according to a 2014 report by The Atlantic. In recent years, more people have declared bankruptcy due to unmanageable health care bills than any other type of debt, including credit cards. When medical bills get out of hand, as they so often do, it is frequently the result of a major unexpected illness such as cancer.

Nationwide, the cost of cancer care is expected to top $150 billion by the year 2020, according to estimates from the National Cancer Institute. A study of the financial circumstances of cancer survivors by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center compared government data on cancer and bankruptcy. The analysis showed that cancer patients were nearly twice as likely as the general population to file for bankruptcy within one year after receiving a diagnosis. By year five, the bankruptcy rate among cancer survivors soared to four times the national average.

Bankruptcy can be a positive step

Despite these seemingly dire statistics, it is important to keep in mind that bankruptcy is not the end of the world - far from it. In fact, although it often arises from negative circumstances, bankruptcy itself can be seen as a new beginning and a fresh start in many ways. After struggling with unmanageable bills, often for years, many overwhelmed borrowers find that bankruptcy offers them the opportunity to reduce or eliminate their debts and rebuild their finances from the ground up.

In many cases, it is possible to get out of debt through bankruptcy without having to forfeit any property or other assets. This is because certain types of property are considered exempt for purposes of bankruptcy, which means that they do not have to be sold and used to pay off debts - a process known as liquidation. However, people who file for bankruptcy in New Jersey have a choice between two different sets of exemptions, state or federal, which operate very differently from one another. Therefore, it is important for borrowers considering bankruptcy to get legal advice to ensure that they choose wisely for their needs.

Talk to a lawyer about your debt problems

If you are struggling with medical bills, credit card balances or other debts that have become too much to handle, talking your situation over with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand your options. Contact the bankruptcy attorneys at Goldman & Beslow, LLC, for a personalized consultation based on your individual circumstances.