Surviving the high cost of serious illness

If you are diagnosed with cancer, which expert should you see first: a medical specialist or a money manager? Surprisingly, option two might give you the best hope of surviving the disease with both your health — and your wealth — intact.

Not only are cancer patients 2½ times as likely to declare bankruptcy as people without cancer, but those patients who go bankrupt are 80 percent more likely to die from the disease than other cancer patients.

For some patients, getting the bills can be as bad as some of the side effects of the disease or the treatment. The problem is so significant that the National Cancer Institute ( has a term for it: “financial toxicity.” Still, it could help to meet with a financial navigator about the health insurance plans and cost-saving methods for treatments that you are eligible for.

Dr. Carolos Garcia, M.D., discussed some of the costs of cancer treatment options, and Scott Page, CEO of Life Guide Partners, spoke about causes of financial toxicity and methods of finding money to cover the cost of treating and living with cancer.