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One-third of Americans struggle with medical debt

Approximately one-third of Americans reported that they have problems paying their medical debt. With this in mind, it may surprise readers that the United States Bankruptcy Code does not address medical expense debt. Sadly, medical expense is one item we often have extremely little control over when it comes to keeping our expenses in check.

It is estimated that 28 million Americans will have depleted their savings while receiving treatment. Another 21 million are burdened by large credit card debt and still another 21 million are unable to afford necessities when receiving medical treatment. This problem affects middle class individuals as well as the poor.

Many individuals have turned to using credit cards when paying off their medical expenses. As there is no such thing as medical-expense-related bankruptcy, individuals burdened with this debt often see few other options besides filing of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Experienced bankruptcy attorneys can help individuals that are in debt and are considering filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Besides representation, however, these attorneys can also provide individuals struggling with medical debt other options. For people facing foreclosure there may be means of modifying one's mortgage circumstances. Attorneys can also work with creditors to see if there are other means of having the debt reduced and payment plans altered.

One medical patient advocate refers to medical debt as being the "new norm." As this form of debt is so unpredictable and contingent upon so many circumstances outside of the patient's control, this form of debt can be particularly destructive.

Source: Roll Call, "Medical Debt: The New Norm for Patients in America," Nancy Davenport-Ennis, April 30, 2014

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