On behalf of William Bible at Law Office of W. Thomas Bible, Jr.
While the Affordable Care Act is in full effect, many Americans will argue the fact that their healthcare is anything but affordable. In fact, excessive medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. A study analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Commonwealth Fund, U.S. Census and the federal court system found that bankruptcy stemming from medical debt will affect 2 million Americans this year alone. Approximately 56 million more will continue to struggle with medical debt and expenses without filing for bankruptcy relief this year. These findings have led many Tennessee residents to investigate the health care system to determine why so many people are having troubles affording their healthcare and the implications that this has on people’s health.
FINDING THE CAUSE OF MEDICAL BANKRUPTCY
There are a variety of reasons why people are facing an overwhelming amount of medical expenses and healthcare costs. Some of these include:
- The National Institutes of Health discovered a dramatic discrepancy in certain healthcare charges, including emergency room charges. Their study uncovered that a medical situation, such as a sprain, can cost anywhere from $40 to $24,000 depending on the ER location, which physicians are attending and the insurance coverage offered.
- Americans that are on a budget are often ‘forced’ to choose a high deductible health plan, as they are often the plans with the lowest monthly premiums. Some of these high deductible plans can cost upwards of $5,000 or $10,000.
- The high costs of healthcare cannot be ignored when it comes to medical expenses. Copays, deductibles and high prescription costs can be more than one can handle. In some situations, people are forced to choose between making their house payment and purchasing the prescription medications that are required for a chronic medical condition. Being diagnosed with a costly chronic condition, such as diabetes, cancer or kidney disease can be a financial death sentence.
While people can control certain types of debt, such as credit card debt and excessive spending on frivolous items, they do not have a say in whether or not they will be diagnosed with cancer or another costly medical condition.
HOW CAN BANKRUPTCY HELP?
People who are faced with substantial medical expenses that continue to accumulate may have no other choice than to file for bankruptcy. The two most common types of bankruptcy include Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. If a debtor makes an income below the state median or passes a means test, most of their medical debt can be completely discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 is a good option for those who wish to retain ownership of their property, while paying off their debt.
SEEKING HELP THROUGH A LEGAL PROFESSIONAL
People who have questions regarding their legal options should contact an established bankruptcy attorney. You may be able to enjoy a fresh financial start, free from medical expense obligations. Contact an attorney for vital legal assistance.