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Cancer diagnosis puts people at greater risk for bankruptcy
Date:5/15/2013

sed at Fred Hutch that is part of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER).

The cancer and control cohorts were both linked with the records of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington. The court serves 19 counties in western Washington, including all 13 counties represented in the Cancer Surveillance System of Western Washington. Researchers included Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings only.

"This is the strongest evidence we have between a disease and risk for severe financial distress," Ramsey said. "I've not seen other studies that linked databases of this quality."

Ramsey directs the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research (HICOR), which is dedicated to health economics and cancer outcomes research. Its mission is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of cancer prevention, early detection and treatment to reduce the economic and human burdens of cancer. HICOR is believed to be the first of its kind among comprehensive cancer centers nationwide.

Among the study's key findings:

  • Between 1995 and 2009 there were 197,840 people in western Washington who were diagnosed with cancer and met the inclusion criteria for the study. Of those, 4,408 (2.2 percent) filed for bankruptcy protection after diagnosis. Of the matched controls who were not diagnosed with cancer, 2,291 (1.1 percent) filed for bankruptcy.

  • Compared to cancer patients who did not file for bankruptcy, those who did were more likely to be younger, female and nonwhite. The youngest age groups had up to 10 times the bankruptcy rate as compared to the older age groups. The authors noted that because cancer is generally a sudden and unexpected event, the risk of bankruptcy is influenced by factors such as debt load before diagnosis, assets, presence and terms of health and disability insurance, number of dependent child
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Contact: Dean Forbes
dforbes@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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