A gig worker with a heart condition, a young mother with scleroderma and a retiree struggling with cancer. Although all three situations involve different people and different scenarios, they do have a couple of major factors in common: medical conditions leading to excessive medical debt.
A study from 2019 disclosed that two-thirds of all people who file for bankruptcy cite medical problems as a leading cause for their financial conundrum. The reasons dealt with the excessive costs of medical care as well as time away from work. The research disclosed that roughly 530,000 families file for bankruptcy each year because of medical conditions and the costs that come with them.
Pre-bankruptcy steps to consider
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, involved more than 900 Americans who filed for bankruptcy between 2013 and 2016. Researchers also discovered that health insurance often is not enough to protect them from a financial downward spiral.
Bankruptcy is a realistic and likely solution to your situation. However, before doing pursuing this route, here are a few things to do that may help your situation:
- Thoroughly review the medical bills. Errors may exist, so do not automatically agree with the hospital’s determination. Sometimes, patients are billed double the amount. Make sure to contact the hospital’s billing department. Also, contact your insurance company if you wonder why a certain procedure was not covered.
- Consider negotiating with the medical care provider and hospital’s billing department. Understand the costs stemming from your medical procedure. This can help you at the negotiating table.
- Look into whether you and your family have eligibility for federal and state assistance. Low-income families may qualify.
- Consider seeking a payment plan. In general, hospitals may agree to a low-interest or interest-free payment plan with patients. Also, hospitals and clinics generally do not want to forward patient bills to credit collection companies.
Medical debt may be overwhelming at times. Remember, though, that bankruptcy represents a workable solution that will help you erase medical debt and get back on financial track.