You are not alone. Bankruptcy for medical debt and lost income due to work missed for medical issues are the top reasons people file for protection, according to a recent study. If you are buried under so much medical debt that you’re afraid you’ll never dig yourself out, you should consider filing for bankruptcy as a way to start over.
At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, our experienced and knowledgeable Ohio bankruptcy attorneys, including Adrienne M. Hines have helped many clients deal with overwhelming medical debt.
Filing for Medical Bankruptcy in Ohio
Our Ohio bankruptcy lawyers routinely help people file for federal protection. Through a chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, you may be able to eliminate some debts or develop a payment plan to pay them over time. It also provides some legal protection while you’re discharging or reorganizing your debts.
A study of medical debt and its impact on bankruptcy filings was published in February in the American Journal of Public Health. It estimates 66.5 percent of all personal bankruptcies were related to medical issues, reports CNBC. The financial damage is due in large part to the high costs of medical care, time lost from work due to medical issues, or both.
Researchers stated about 530,000 people file for bankruptcy annually for these reasons. Medical issues are more significant causes of bankruptcy than:
- Unaffordable mortgages or foreclosure, 45 percent
- Providing financial help to others, 28.4 percent
- Student loans, 25.4 percent
- Divorce or separation, 24.4 percent
Many Americans don’t have enough saved to handle an unexpected vehicle repair bill or a short period of unemployment, let alone medical bills for treating a serious injury or illness that could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This study, compared to one published 14 years ago, shows this problem is getting worse.
Results of a study released in 2005 estimated the share of bankruptcy for medical debt and health-related lost income was about 30 percent, according to the New York Times, less than half of the estimate of the latest study.
Harvard researchers surveyed 1,771 people who filed for bankruptcy in 2001, and they interviewed 931 of them. They also found that medical bills, along with lost jobs or reduced incomes, were a combination that many couldn’t recover from financially.
What is Health Insurance For?
Having health insurance coverage wasn’t a guarantee patients could avoid a financial crisis. Most of those with high medical debt filing for bankruptcy protection had some form of health insurance.
Many health plans limit some types of coverage, like physical therapy or prescription drugs. There may also be high deductibles, co-pays, and premiums. Some policies do include catastrophic coverage, which pays for care after costs hit a given amount, but your medical debt may already be overwhelming before it’s reached.
Discuss Your Options with a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If your family is struggling with medical debt that’s beyond your ability to repay, contact bankruptcy lawyer Adrienne M. Hines at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA. She has years of experience elping those who have suffered medical and financial setbacks and who need a financial fresh start.