Cancer Treatment Often Comes With Medical Debt, But Credit Reporting Agencies Are Changing

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Pennsylvania according to a report released by the state Department of Health in 2019.

And a recent survey by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network found that for half of cancer patients and survivors, treating their disease comes with medical debt.

The survey also found that more than 70% of people said they made “significant lifestyle changes” to afford cancer care, including “exhausting most or all of their savings” and incur credit card debt.

“You imagine being treated for cancer, it’s quite stressful, it’s quite worrying, but having to go through the treatment and not only worry about the treatment but also worry, can I afford it,” said Marc Kaplan, Regional Media Advocacy Manager. director of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

Additionally, the survey found that the majority of people with medical debt had their accounts in collection, and nearly half said the debt had a negative impact on their credit.

“Another important point is that women and African Americans are most likely to incur medical debt,” Kaplan said.

Earlier this month, three national credit reporting agencies announced they would remove medical debts from credit reports that have been collected but paid off. They also doubled the time before unpaid medical debt appears on a report.

Learn more about our partners, WLVR.