Cancer is a deadly and solemn health concern for many Americans. For some, it also leads to serious financial problems. Cancer victims and their families must go through grueling and often emotional medical treatment and ongoing care over a period of months or even years. Health insurance generally covers only a portion of these costs, which can be quite high.
According to the California Cancer Registry, more than 1.45 million Californians who are alive today have a history of cancer. In 2016, it was estimated that 173,200 people would be diagnosed with cancer in our state, not including most noninvasive cancers and skin cancers. That amounts to about 20 new cases every hour of every day.
In Los Angeles, about 38,000 new cancer cases are observed every year, according to California Department of Public Health data. Nearly one out of every two Californians born today will develop cancer at some point in their lives.
Families in Los Angeles, and elsewhere, are finding that they are facing financial peril when trying to pay for the medical care necessary after a diagnosis is made. With the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney at Borowitz & Clark, you may be able to get back on track.
Fighting Cancer is Expensive
Americans are often blindsided by just how costly cancer can be. Unfortunately, a cancer diagnosis usually requires immediate treatment, leaving families with no real plan for how to pay for care. In many cases, soon after medical care begins, the bills start rolling in.
Surgery, radiation and other treatments are expensive. After these treatments, patients often need to take cancer medications, which can cost $10,000 or more per month. While these costs may be partly covered by insurance, the portion left to the patient orten remains very high. In many cases, patients are unable to afford the necessary medications, even after selling their possessions and borrwing from friends of family.
Formulas and data can be used in order to determine the actual costs that you will encounter. The California Healthcare Foundation has provided some details regarding how to calculate the costs of cancer care. The costs may vary greatly depending on the type of cancer, care options, and life expectancy of the patient. You’ll also need to factor in the portion of payments that are made by your healthcare provider.
Verify that Your Bills are Correct
Before you determine the amount of money you need to pay for services already provided, gather and verify all of the bills. Work with your insurance company to verify that they are paying the proper portion of the bills.
Examine each bill thoroughly to make sure that the treatments, medications, and services are listed appropriately. When something is improperly coded it may be rejected as not being covered, even though it should have been. It is important to keep very good records of medical care, along with detailed bills so they can be reviewed.
Options for Those Facing Financial Challenges in Paying For Serious Illness
If your bills are manageable, you may be able to resolve them by boosting your income with a second job. That isn’t possible for most people, however, due to the physical, emotional and financial toll extracted by their ongoing medical challenges.
One of the most common ways to pay for skyrocketing cancer costs is by taking out personal loans. A loan may be the most efficient way to get the money necessary to pay for bills. Unfortunately, many Americans are not qualified or are otherwise unable to borrow money from a lender.
Downsizing your home is another way to get some money to pay for your bills. However, this is only a good choice for those who have built enough equity in their homes. If not, selling your home may not garner the money you need. Another possible solution to to review your budget and eliminate any unnecessary expenses. You may be able to save up to $5,000 a year just by taking away some of your extra perks you currently enjoy.
Others may find it necessary to sell some of their possessions. If you have expensive artwork or jewelry, consider liquidating them to pay your medical bills. It is often best to go through a specialty consignment company or auction house to be sure to obtain the best possible prices. Hold a yard sale to get some additional money for items you no longer need or want. If you own two vehicles, think about selling one of them.
In many instances, these options may help but not provide you with all the money to cover your bills. Instead, some families might need to consider bankruptcy. Bankruptcy does come with some important advantages, and can be a viable choice for those who have an insurmountable amount of debt.
Is Bankruptcy Possible for Our Family?
Those who are mounting bills and struggling with cancer treatment may begin to feel desperate, hopeless and completely stressed out. It is well known that this additional stress is the last thing someone facing a cancer diagniosis needs. In many instances, bankruptcy may be one of the best options available to your family. According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 1 million Americans file for bankruptcy each year.
Bankruptcy puts an immediate end to the harassing phone calls from creditors. It also puts a plan into action that allows you to resolve your debts in a better and more manageable manner. You will be able to immediately reduce the stress that you have from your inability to pay your bills.
How Does Bankruptcy Work?
Filing for bankruptcy may help you out of a very serious financial problem. If you have a job, you may qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which allows you to consolidate debts with a payment plan. In some instances, some of your debt may be discharged. This means that some debts — including medical debt — won’t need to be paid back.
With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will discharge your liability to your creditors. A qualified California bankruptcy attorney will review your situation and help determine which option is best in your case. A bankruptcy will impact your credit score in the short term, however, it will immediately get you out of the debt cycle you are stuck in, allow you to focus on your medical recovery and resolve your financial situation thus significantly reducing your stress levels.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Barry Edward Borowitz is the founding partner of Borowitz & Clark, LLP, a leading bankruptcy law firm that represents clients petitioning for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code. Mr. Borowitz has been practicing bankruptcy law exclusively for more than 15 years. View his full profile here.