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

ren, and incomes of others in the household at the time of the cancer 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," the authors wrote. "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."

In contrast, people age 65 or older generally have Medicare insurance and Social Security benefits. These older people are likely to have more assets and possibly more income than working-age people. "However, it is likely that having stable insurance (specifically, coverage not tied to employment) plays a major role in mitigating the risk of bankruptcy for those over age sixty-five," the authors wrote.

  • The proportion of cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy within one year of diagnosis was 0.52 percent, compared to 0.16 percent within one year for the control group. For bankruptcy filings within five years of diagnosis, the proportion of cancer patients was about 1.7 percent, compared to 0.7 percent for the control group.

  • The incidence rates for bankruptcy at one year after diagnosis, per 1,000 person-years, for the cancers with the highest overall incidence rates were as follows: thyroid, 9.3; lung, 9.1; uterine, 6.8; leukemia/lymphoma, 6.2; colorectal, 5.9; melanoma, 5.7; breast, 5.7; and prostate. 3.7. The incidence rate for all cancers combined was 6.1. The high bankruptcy incidence rate for those with thyroid cancer may be because thyroid cancer affects younger women more often than other cancers do according to the researchers. "Compared to men, younger women are more likely to live in single-income households and to have lower wages and lower rates of employment, and therefore less access to high-
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  • Contact: Dean Forbes
    dforbes@fhcrc.org
    206-667-2896
    Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
    Source:Eurekalert

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