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Insured Cancer Survivors Still Incur $10,000 Debt or More

cancer survivorsEven with great insurance, many cancer survivors incur debt in the amount of $10,000 or more. In a newly released study by the Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions, approximately 65% of cancer survivors, the majority having solid health insurance, did not have enough household income to cover expenses relating to treatment.

Because of this, many patients are forced to use investment money or personal savings as a means of paying for the cost for critical cancer treatments. According to statistics, 46% paid medical bills using one or more credit cards and 15% from a 401K account or money borrowed from family members and friends.

The cost of treatments for cancer has reached such a high level that about 62% of survivors reported having some degree of debt after all treatment was done. Another 52% said they incurred debt of $5,000 or more and 30% said they owed at least $10,000, probably more.

In addition to standard cancer treatments, statistics include non-treatment related expenses such as travel for chemotherapy, in-home medical care, someone to cook and clean, childcare, and so on. The bottom line – about 33% of cancer survivors are not as financially secure as they were prior to the start of treatment.

Among those financially scarred by cancer, most are young people, with 8 in 10 survivors having received a diagnosis before the age of 50 compared to 61% being diagnosed between 50 and 65 years of age. To pay for treatment, these individuals had to use at minimum, one additional financial means beyond earned income.

In a recent survey, 400 citizens of the United States between 25 and 65 years f age and who had household incomes between $35,000 and $100,000, were diagnosed with cancer sometime in the past 10 years.

Fighting cancer is bad enough but trying to keep up with the cost of treatment often becomes overwhelming, even for patients with good health insurance. For those individuals with medical insurance, average out-of-pocket expenses were over $700 a month, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars within a short period of time.

In addition to standard treatment, cancer patients with insurance coverage are responsible for premiums, co-pays, medication, doctor’s visits, travel expenses, and lost wages. From a 2011 study, experts discovered that more than 13% of cancer patients spent over 20% of earned income just on treatment and insurance premiums alone.

Unfortunately, the cost paid by cancer survivors is usually much greater than anticipated. A whopping 57% of survivors said that lost income was the number one expense followed by uninsured treatments and out-of-network treatments.

Predicting cancer is nearly impossible but experts agree that everyone regardless of risk should start planning now, just in case. Some of the suggestions include maintaining good health by eating right, exercising daily, and following a healthy lifestyle and starting an emergency fund, saving at least six months of living expenses.

People should also understand exactly what is and what is not covered with an existing insurance policy and if needed, choose something that would be more beneficial if a cancer diagnosis were made.

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