Credit Card Debt, Medical Debt

How to Keep Medical Debt Off Your Credit Cards

With the cost of medical care increasing every year, many Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills. According to a recent study from NerdWallet, medical costs have increased 33 percent since 2009, while the national median household income has only increased 30 percent. To keep up with these costs, many consumers are forced to pay for their medical bills with credit cards. The problem is credit card interest rates can range anywhere from 10%-30% and come with additional fees and costs if timely payment is not made. Medical bills are expensive and paying them with your credit card will only add unnecessary interest fees to your bills.

Here are some tips that can help you avoid having to put medical bills on a credit card.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief

This Common Life Event Doubles Your Chances of Filing for Bankruptcy

Medical debt is a common cause of consumer bankruptcy filings.  Losing one’s health insurance, also puts individuals and families at an increased financial risk.  According to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), when someone has an interruption in their health insurance coverage, this gap in coverage nearly doubles that person’s chances of filing for bankruptcy.

The ABI looked through figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more than 12,500 individuals.  Their findings revealed a “strong association” between losing insurance coverage and consumer bankruptcy filings. ABI narrowed down their research even further to look at 454 people between the years 2008 and 2014 with similar incomes and debt-to-income ratios, who all filed for bankruptcy in that span of time. While many of these bankruptcy filings were driven by health issues, job loss and divorce, a great majority of them had to do with the fact that the person or someone that depended on the insurance carrier did not have coverage at the time of their illness or injury.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Struggling with Medical Debt? You’re Not Alone.

When someone is going through a medical crisis, the last thing that person needs is additional stress. However, for millions of Americans, insurmountable medical debt is a reality that accompanies their illness or medical condition.  The Consumer Financial Protections Bureau reports 72 million Americans struggle to pay off medical debt, as of 2018. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the U.S.

According to a recent study by Kaiser Family Foundation and the Los Angeles Times, more than 50 percent of consumers have someone in their household who suffers from some type of chronic medical condition. Dealing with continual medical appointments, medication and monitoring of the condition can take its toll, especially on a family’s finances.

Even more staggering are the statistics reported by the American Cancer Society (ACS). According to their figures, more than 137 million Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills. Falling behind due to a medical condition can happen so quickly and easily. With the cost of medical care in our country, many of these patients end up losing everything they have because of their illness. The ACS data shows that 42 percent of cancer patients end up losing their entire life savings within just two years of treatment.

The ACS study looked at what they classify as high out-of-pocket (OOP) costs for medical care, not just care for the treatment of cancer, by focusing on patients between the ages of 18 and 64. Their study looked at several criteria, including lifestyle modification because of medical costs, temporary loss of employment because of medical treatment,  the need to refinance or mortgage the home due to medical bills, permanent loss of employment from medical treatment, and the need to sell the patient’s home just to pay medical bills. Other, more severe measures, included stopping necessary treatment because of the cost, and even considering suicide.

The ACS researchers looked at three different “domains” or areas of hardship, including financial hardship, psychological hardship, and coping behaviors. One-third of those surveyed in the category over the age of 65 reported hardship in at least one of the three areas surveyed of hardship. However, of those who were in the “employed” category, meaning between the ages of 18 and 64, over 50 percent of them reported hardship in at least one of the three categories. Women tended to be the group hit the hardest in these three domains.

An even more disturbing statistic showed that while more than half of those surveyed said they were struggling in one of the three hardship areas, one-fourth of those surveyed reported struggling in two of those domains. Unfortunately, as the cost of healthcare continue to rise, as do the prevalence of chronic medical conditions, this problem is only anticipated to get worse, which is why medical care and quality health insurance continue to be an issue on the forefront of politics.

How is Medical Debt Handled in Bankruptcy?

In bankruptcy, medical debt is treated the same as credit card debt. Medical bills are listed as general unsecured debt and can be easily wiped out in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.  Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is never an easy one.  It can be difficult to get past some of the myths associated with filing for bankruptcy. Sometimes by waiting, an individual facing a lot of debt can find himself or herself in an even worse situation. Filing for bankruptcy can help protect valuable assets, including your home, car, IRA and social security.  It will put an end to wage garnishment and any lawsuit being filed to collect on the debt, thanks to the protections of the automatic stay.

Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/health-care

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Medical Debt a Factor in Two-Thirds of Bankruptcy Filings

Coming to the decision to file for bankruptcy is an extremely difficult and personal one to make, but for many Americans, they have no other choice but to file. Why are so many of them at the point where bankruptcy is their only viable option? According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health, medical debt is the leading cause behind many of these bankruptcy filings.

The study was conducted by two medical professionals, two attorneys and a sociologist from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project. The data reported showed that two-thirds of filers cited medical debt as the reason for their filing. They surveyed 910 Americans who filed for bankruptcy between the years 2013 and 2016. Of those surveyed, 58.5 percent reported that medical expenses either “very much” or “somewhat” contributed to their bankruptcy case. Additionally, 44.3 percent of those surveyed cited a serious illness that resulted in work loss as a contributing factor. Two-thirds of those surveyed said that medical reasons were one of the factors that led to them filing for bankruptcy.

It is estimated that approximately 530,000 medical bankruptcies are filed annually. Even after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), medical bankruptcies are still a common occurrence. High medical costs can lead to the person falling into financial difficulties, but so can losing time at work or even losing a job because of an illness or injury.

The study concluded that, even with the ACA, those who are considered “chronically poor,” tended to be the group that was most affected by the ACA coverage expansion. This group tends to also not have access to credit or assets to utilize to handle unexpected medical expenses. Many of these filers are already strapped financially and unable to make ends meet. Of those surveyed, 45 percent of them said they filed for bankruptcy due to foreclosure or the inability to pay their mortgages; 44.4 percent stated they were living beyond their means; and 24.4 percent of them were struggling after a divorce or separation.

According to Dr. David U. Himmelstein, distinguished professor at Hunter College and the founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, the lack of sufficient healthcare coverage is a leading cause these filings. Lack of savings is also a contributing factor. All it takes is for one major, unexpected medical crisis for a person to fall into a desperate financial situation where he or she cannot pay medical bills, and struggle to afford basic living expenses.

How is Medical Debt Handled in Bankruptcy?

In bankruptcy, medical debt is treated the same as credit card debt. Medical bills are listed as general unsecured debt and can be easily wiped out in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.  Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is never an easy one.  It can be difficult to get past some of the myths associated with filing for bankruptcy.  Sometimes by waiting, an individual facing a lot of debt can find himself or herself in an even worse situation. Filing for bankruptcy can help protect valuable assets, including your home, pension, IRA and social security.  It will put an end to wage garnishment and any lawsuit being filed to collect on the debt, thanks to the protections of the automatic stay.

To read more on this topic, please click here.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/medical-debt-a-factor-in-two-thirds-of-bankruptcies-in-survey.html

 

 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Cancer Patients Twice As Likely to File for Bankruptcy

A recent study reveals the devastating financial toll a cancer diagnosis can bring.  Even for those with health insurance, the consequences can be financially devastating. The ongoing treatments can quickly deplete savings accounts and rack up credit card debt, eventually making it difficult to cover basic living expenses.

Cancer has always been an expensive diagnosis to treat, but recently several factors have made the costs more intense, prompting more patients to cut back on their medications, even delay treatment. Insurance companies are tightening prescription drug coverage and raising deductible costs.  This means for some, paying thousands of dollars a year for a drug like the leukemia treatment Gleevec, which is a pill that is taken daily, sometimes for the rest of a person’s life.

The Affordable Care Act sets limits as to how much people can spend on healthcare each year.  Cancer treatments often extend beyond a year and coverage does not always apply to the increasingly narrow network of doctors and hospitals that are considered ‘in-network.’

Duke Cancer Institute oncologist, Dr. Yousuf Zafar, who also studies financial distress among cancer patients, surveyed 300 adult, insured patients at the cancer institute.  Nearly 40 percent reported a higher-than-expected financial burden, while 16 percent dealt with what he called ‘overwhelming financial distress.’

More than a quarter of that patient population said they did not take their medicines as prescribed, skipped doses and took smaller amounts than prescribed to save on costs.  Some did not even get their prescriptions filled.

Additional research found that cancer patients are more than twice as likely as those without the diagnosis to file for bankruptcy.

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Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Have Substantial Medical Debt

Medical debt is a leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States.  Even if you recover from the illness, the medical debt can remain.  This can be made even worse by constant calls from debt collectors.  If you are struggling with medical debt, you are not alone.  Nearly one in five Americans has delinquent medical debt on their credit reports.

Many times this medical debt can be bought and sold for pennies on the dollar. For example, a collection agency can spend ten dollars to purchase $1,000 worth of debt. Yet, the collectors will still attempt to get the full amount from people who owe the debt.

You may be tempted to ignore a medical debt lawsuit and hope it goes away, but this is one of the worst things you can do because the debt collector will automatically win by default.  There are steps you can take if you are facing a medical debt lawsuit.

Click here to read more on this story.

Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Top 10 Reasons People File for Bankruptcy

While it is commonly assumed that people who file for bankruptcy cannot resist the temptation of using credit cards or are self-proclaimed shopaholics, most people go bankrupt for other reasons.  Here are the most common reasons people file for bankruptcy.

  1. Medical debt. Medical expenses account for approximately 62 percent of personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S., according to a recent Harvard University study.  And interestingly enough, the study revealed that 72 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy due to their medical bills had some form of health insurance.
  2. Reduced income. Companies are cutting back on expenses and for many employees that means pay cuts. Less income, combined with an unexpected expense can end in bankruptcy.
  3. Job loss. The sudden loss of a job can quickly deplete ones savings.  Approximately 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings and 21% live month-to-month.
  4. Credit card debt. This is not always the result of irresponsible spending, but can accumulate due to an unexpected medical expense, illness or job loss.
  5. Divorce. This can mean a significant loss of income and assets for both partners. It can also mean taking on a portion of your partner’s debt if you co-signed on a loan during the marriage.
  6. Unexpected expenses. Emergencies can happen to any one of us, whether your vehicle breaks down, you suffer a debilitating illness or a catastrophic storm damages your home—these events can deplete savings quickly.
  7. Student loans. Even though these are difficult to discharge in bankruptcy, statistics show that student loans account for at least one percent of all U.S. bankruptcy filings, which translates to approximately 15,000 bankruptcies a year.
  8. Utility payments. For many homeowners, the rising costs of utilities- such as heating, air conditioning and electricity- can quickly add up and pave the way to bankruptcy.
  9. Foreclosure. A number of people file for bankruptcy in an effort to save their homes from foreclosure.
  10. Money mismanagement. Money management has become more difficult, thanks in part to inflation.  A combination of poor spending habits and incorrect budgeting can quickly spiral into debt.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Millennials Slower to Pay Down Medical Debt

A recent study by TransUnion revealed that millennials pay medical expenses at a lower rate than Gen X or baby boomers. The study did a comparison of credit data and it revealed five key findings.

  1. Millennials use fewer credit cards than Gen X consumers. In fact, their use of private label cards is 23 percent lower than Gen X consumers, while their usage of bankcards is 22 percent lower.
  2. Millennials prefer to make every day purchases using cash and debit cards, according to TransUnion.
  3. When it comes to credit cards, subprime millennials carry a serious delinquency rate of 23 percent, which is lower than the Gen X rate of 28 percent.
  4. Millennials tend to pay medical bills at a slower pace compared to other generations, according to TransUnion. The study found 74 percent of millennials did not pay their medical bills in full in 2016, a 6 percent increase from 2015. That compares to 68 percent for Gen X consumers and 60 percent for baby boomers.
  5. Millennials’ slower rate of paying medical bills is occurring in a healthcare environment where patients are taking on more financial responsibility for their care. The study found healthcare provider revenue collected directly from patients increased from less than 10 percent to more than 30 percent over the last 10 years.

Click here to read more on this story.

Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Medical Credit Cards Leaving Patients with Aches and Pains

Long after the procedure is over, patients are still suffering with pain.  Not from the operation, but from the card they used to pay for the operation.  Medical credit cards are offered at the doctor’s office to pay for procedures, patients otherwise cannot afford at the time.  This type of credit seems like a quick fix for pricey procedures not covered by insurance.

However, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly a third of Americans report trouble paying their medical bills and many have taken on credit card debt to pay the expenses.  Medical debt is the No. 1 reason Americans file for bankruptcy.

One of the biggest dangers of medical credit cards are the misconceptions associated with them.  A number of patients think they are setting up an installment plan with the doctor’s office.  Many do not understand they have opened up a new line of credit with sky-high interest rates and strict penalties for even a single missed payment.

Most of these cards feature a “zero interest” promotional period for up to 18 months. But then the interest rate can jump to 25 percent or higher.  Some consumers never received a copy of the credit card terms and had to rely on explanations from medical staffers who had little training on the card details, in cases cited by U.S. authorities.

Another potential drawback is something called deferred interest. That means if a patient does not pay off the entire balance during the “interest-free” period, they can be retroactively charged for interest dating back to when they first signed up.

Before you sign up for a medical credit card, we advise that you research other options, first.  Medically necessary procedures may be available at a discounted rate or even for free at certain hospitals that provide some level of charitable care.  If it is not medically necessary, consider waiting until you can afford the procedure.   If you must use a credit card to pay for a procedure, use one that has terms and conditions you understand.

Click here to read more on this story.

Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.