Cancer patients from low-income, at-risk populations face an even tougher road to a cure than those who are well-off. Even if they somehow manage to obtain quality health care and survive their illness, massive medical debt can leave their lives in shambles. An estate planning attorney can be a valuable ally, as can not-for-profit organizations that help low-income individuals overcome the devastating financial impact of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. It is anticipated that half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer at some point in their lives, according to a recently published article in The Huffington Post, "When an Attorney Is the Best Medicine." That's the bad news. The good news is that the five-year survival rate for all diagnosed cancers has improved. Unfortunately, the costs of treating cancer have risen exponentially. Medical debt is a problem for many Americans, and it is only going to become a bigger problem.
The National Institute of Health believes that by 2020, direct medical costs alone will be at least $158 billion-an increase of 27% over 10 years. This means patients often face great difficulties in paying for housing and groceries. Cancer patients with major financial issues are also more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
However, attorneys who work with health care professionals can help with many of the non-medical issues that impede a person's cancer prognosis and life expectancy. Identifying healthcare coverage options, securing coverage, and assisting patients with providers disputes are some of the big problems with which attorneys can help. An attorney can also help patients with housing issues, dealing with Social Security and other benefits and end-of-life planning.
Legal assistance helps patients help themselves. Those who received legal services become better advocates on their own behalf. Healthcare systems see a benefit as well; with an attorney acting as part of the healthcare team, doctors are able to focus on the patient's health.
Fighting cancer alone can make anyone vulnerable. Fighting cancer and also dealing with a serious legal matter can have horrible effects on patients and their families. Work with an experienced elder law attorney and get help so you and your loved ones do not face a disease like cancer alone.