Healthcare Costs Are Destroying America: New Study Shows Correlation Between Cancer And Bankruptcy


A new study gives evidence that Americans who get cancer are twice as likely as healthy Americans to go bankrupt, regardless of whether they have insurance or not. White women were the most likely demographic to go broke, and thyroid cancer, which mostly affects young women, was the type of cancer most closely associated with bankruptcy. Prostate cancer among older men was the least likely to cause bankruptcy:

A team of researchers in Washington state collected data from nearly 400,000 adults, evenly split between those who had been treated for cancer and those who were cancer-free. After checking to see which of those adults had filed for bankruptcy between 1995 and 2009, the researchers found that cancer patients were 2.5 times as likely to go bankrupt in that period.

Although the study didn’t specifically look at insurance coverage, previous research has demonstrated that the Americans who cite major health issues as the reason they filed for bankruptcy are actually often insured. One 2006 study found that more than 60 percent of bankruptcies in the United States are due to high medical bills, and in those cases, three-quarters of those Americans had insurance when they got sick. (Think Progress)

Think Progress also goes on to quote an article by NBC that interviews a cancer patient that was both employed and insured when she was diagnosed, and had to declare bankruptcy. I recommend reading it, and it can be found here.

Although the research was originally revealed in 2011, it wasn’t until recently that their results were published in the Health Affairs academic journal. Because of other financial concerns and less time to save or find a high-paying job, the chances of younger people declaring bankruptcy if they get cancer are magnified tenfold, as CBS reports:

Cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy were more likely to be younger, women and not white, the researchers found. The youngest people in the study had up to 10 times the bankruptcy rates as the oldest.

The authors point out that since a cancer diagnosis is often a sudden life event, younger patients’ bankruptcies may be influenced by preexisting debt, not having as many assets, having more dependent children and not having supplemental income of others in the household at the time of diagnosis.

“The youngest groups in the study were diagnosed at a time when their debt-to-income ratios are typically highest — often unavoidably, because they are paying off student loans, purchasing a home, or starting a business,” according to the authors. “All working-age people who develop cancer face loss of income and, in many cases, loss of employer-sponsored insurance, both of which can be devastating for households in which the patient is the primary wage earner.”

Do we really want to live in a country where a terrifying and life-threatening life event like cancer can utterly destroy someone financially? There’s no reason that somebody should beat cancer and have their life ruined because of it. Let’s be honest — the Affordable Care Act should have been a single-payer system.

Political Writer, Justin Acuff Please join me on Facebook, or visit my home site.You can also follow me on Twitter.