For the average person, a cancer diagnosis means a sudden change in every aspect of their lives. They may not be able to work for some time. There will be regular doctors’ appointments, sometimes lasting hours. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery may all be in the immediate future. Most people start to plan for the physical consequences of cancer as soon as they get a diagnosis.
The long-term financial repercussions of such a diagnosis often don’t hit home until after treatment is all done. Even for people with insurance, cancer maybe a financial hardship that can result in the need to file bankruptcy. You could find yourself dealing with a huge stack of medical bills after months of being unable to work. It’s a hole that many people cannot dig themselves back out of after treatment.
Even with insurance, cancer can cost a lot
Getting diagnosed with cancer when you don’t have insurance is a recipe for financial disaster. What many people fail to realize, however, is that even with excellent insurance, cancer could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Three percent of cancer survivors end up filing for bankruptcy, which is roughly double the average national rate. That says something about the affordability of cancer treatment in the United States.
Even before you begin treatment, you will likely incur thousands of dollars worth of medical bills. Genetic testing, MRI tests and biopsies can all cost thousands of dollars each. Once doctors know the location and extent of your cancer, they will propose a treatment plan.
There is a good chance that your insurance company will have a significant deductible, possibly anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, before they start covering anything. Beyond that, you may have both co-insurance and co-pays on different treatments.
Co-insurance is usually a percentage of the cost that you have to assume. The co-pay is usually a flat rate associated with a particular kind of visit. When you have to see the doctor three or more times a week, those costs can add up to substantial expenses.
You shouldn’t feel ashamed about getting the treatment you need to survive
Many people view bankruptcy as a kind of moral or financial failure. They feel like if they could have just planned better or saved more, they would not need the protections of bankruptcy.
Truthfully, no one can really budget for cancer treatment, unless they are independently wealthy. If you saw the treatment you required to survive and beat cancer, you should not be ashamed of the difficulties you experience paying for it.
You shouldn’t have to struggle with tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt and collection calls in the immediate aftermath of cancer treatment. Bankruptcy maybe the fresh start that can help you enjoy life now that you are in remission.