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Facts regarding medical debt for Pennsylvania residents

According to the National Institutes of Health, it costs $216.6 billion per year to treat cancer in the United States. On average, each patient racks up over $10,000 of debt with costs higher for those treated earlier in life. Cancer treatment costs were also higher for those with advanced forms of cancer. Statistics indicate that 62 percent of cancer survivors go into medical debt to pay for their treatment.

The five-year cancer survivor rate was 68 percent in 2009. This means that the odds of going into debt to pay for treatment are roughly the same as surviving the cancer itself. Those who were under the age of 50 were more likely to need financial assistance to pay for treatment while 45 percent of those with cancer in stage III or IV typically needed help paying bills.

A study conducted in 2012 by the National Health Interview Survey found that over a quarter of Americans have trouble paying medical bills. Additionally, 16.5 percent said that they had trouble paying medical bills over the last 12 months. While having insurance may help, over 75 percent of medical bankruptcies were filed by those who had insurance. Although experts say that there is no way to predict when a medical emergency may strike, it is a good idea to set aside money in the event that one occurs.

Filing for bankruptcy may make it possible to obtain relief from debt. Chapter 7 bankruptcy may provide immediate debt relief while Chapter 13 bankruptcy may enable individuals to reorganize their debts and pay them over time. A bankruptcy attorney may be able to help those who want to learn more about bankruptcy or how it may be able to stop creditors from pursuing collection calls or taking legal action against a debtor.

Source: FOX Business, "They Beat Cancer, But Can They Beat Medical Debt Now?", October 01, 2014

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