A diagnosis of cancer often has a ripple effect on many areas of a person’s life. The physical and mental consequences of struggling against a potentially fatal disease can impact someone’s personal relationships and mental health. Both the symptoms of the cancer itself and the side effects of treatments like chemotherapy or radiation can affect someone’s cognitive ability, making it harder for them to care for themselves or continue working.

Finally, at the same time that someone may be too sick to earn income, they may also have to worry about thousands of dollars worth of coinsurance, co-pays and deductibles. All of that can create a perfect storm that leaves people with a cancer diagnosis more than 2.5 times likelier than the average American citizen to file bankruptcy.

The best cancer treatments may not have insurance coverage

One of the reasons that treating cancer is so expensive that the newer and more expensive your recommended cancer treatment, the less likely it is for your insurance provider or government insurance to fully cover the costs. In the case of experimental or new medications, such as immunotherapies, you may have to pay entirely out of pocket for the care you receive.

Modern insurance is not forgiving for those with high medical costs

Coinsurance involves paying a specific percentage of your medical costs. Co-pays are typically flat-rate fees paid at the time of service. Deductibles are an amount you need to pay out-of-pocket every year before your insurance company will cover any of the care that you need.

The combination of the three could mean that you have tens of thousands of dollars of financial obligations before you have any coverage under your health care plan. As if that weren’t bad enough, many insurance carriers have maximum lifetime benefits, which cancer treatments could easily exceed.

If you beat cancer, don’t let that drag you down

Finding out that you are cancer-free or in remission can feel like you finally have a new lease on life, but your enthusiasm may be short-lived when their financial reality of your treatment finally hits you. You shouldn’t have to undergo months of painful and debilitating treatment only to live the rest of your life struggling to make ends meet because of the cost of that care.

Filing personal bankruptcy can offer a fresh financial start through the discharge of unsecured medical debts, including most medical debt. If the medical care providers who helped you beat cancer have begun to take aggressive collection efforts such as garnishments or an attempt to put a lien against your personal property, you may need to consider bankruptcy as a way to protect yourself.