Medical Debt

COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Medical Debt Crisis

Medical debt is a financial stressor for many Americans, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now with the pandemic well into its second year, countless Americans are becoming overwhelmed with medical bills with no end in sight. 

Scientists are studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 on those who contract the virus. Many of them have suffered through several hospital stays, multiple treatments, and several referrals to various specialists. Each of these events, of course, comes with its own set of medical bills. 

According to Credit Karma, medical debt spiked 6.5 percent since the pandemic first hit at the start of 2020, increasing by approximately $2.8 billion. The number of individuals with past due medical debt increased by nine percent during this time, jumping from 19.6 million to 21.4 million.   

Another medical debt survey conducted by Lending Tree found that 60 percent of Americans polled carried some level of medical debt. Fifty-three percent (53%) of them saying that this debt was more than $5,000. Of those surveyed, 72 percent surveyed said that their medical debt has kept them from purchasing a home or having a child in the near future.    

Many consumers have felt forced to rely on credit to pay off their outstanding medical debts caused by a COVID diagnosis. However, paying these debts via credit card only delays payment of what is owed.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit consumers and businesses hard. According to a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and the W.E. Upton Institute, 7.7 million American workers lost their employee-sponsored health insurance benefits by June 2020, affecting not just the 7.7 million workers but also their 6.9 million dependents. Due to the loss of this insurance coverage, overall cost of medical care has skyrocketed. On top of losing that health insurance coverage, many Americans also lost their job and thus their income source, making paying these high costs nearly impossible.  

Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offset these high medical costs. The bill’s protections provide a short-term solution for those struggling with medical debt. Democratic lawmakers are pushing heavily towards expanding health care and addressing the costs of medical treatment. Some of these efforts have been to reduce the negative effects medical debt has on a person’s credit score. 

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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 McMaken, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, COVID-19, Medical Debt, student loan debt

Bankruptcy Reform Bill Proposed that will Discharge Student Loans and Medical Debt

The Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2021 was unveiled by Democratic Senators this week in response to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The bill would make substantial reforms to the current bankruptcy code, making it easier for those struggling with student loan debt and medical debt to discharge the same in bankruptcy.

Currently, the bankruptcy code treats student loan debt differently from other types of consumer debt. Borrowers must show they meet the ‘undue hardship’ requirement in order to discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy.

Medical Debt

The Reasons to Avoid Paying Medical Bills with Credit Cards

Most people hope to avoid having long-term medical debt on their credit report, which is why it can be tempting to want to pay off medical debt with a credit card. However, the consequences that come along with using one form of debt to pay off another can be enough to want to keep anyone from taking this route.   

Medical debt is reported to be the number one cause of U.S. bankruptcy filings. It has been reported that over two-thirds of all bankruptcies between 2013 and 2016 involved medical debt. According to a 2019 study, one in every three households carried credit card debt after using credit to pay off medical bills.  

Medical Debt

What Are the Options When You Can’t Pay Medical Debt?

Medical debt presents a major problem for so many in South Florida. The cost of receiving medical care, even with health insurance, can push a financially stable person into debt. Escaping that debt can be a struggle. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed countless consumers further into debt, and with a second wave of the virus likely, the problems could be far from over.

Medical debt is the leading cause of approximately two-thirds (2/3) of all consumer bankruptcies filed. According to a recent poll from U.S. News of approximately 1,500 Americans, just under 40 percent of them reported having serious trouble with managing their medical bills with at least one of these bills being sent to collections. Within this group, seven percent have been sued for collection of their medical debt. Six percent of them said they filed bankruptcy due to medical debt. 

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Medical Debt, student loan debt

Tips for Managing Student Loans, Medical Debt, Credit Cards and More

DMP - Debt Management Plan acronym, business concept background

Consumer debt encompasses several different categories. However, many people often struggle with the same few categories, mainly student loans, medical debt, and credit card debt. It helps to know how to attack the debt individually in each category if a consumer is looking to pay down their various debts.

Student Loan Debt

If you are struggling with student loan debt, you’re not alone. In fact, it has been reported that Americans carry over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. This figure amounts to an average individual load of $32,731 per student. If the consumer proceeds towards a master’s degree or professional degree following graduation from undergraduate studies, that amount can get into six figures. Paying down that debt can be a struggle for many, especially during recent times. Currently, the federal government has issued a forbearance on all federal student loan debt during the COVID-19 crisis, which has been extended past September 30.

Medical Debt

Tips for Dealing with Medical Debt Collections

Medical debt affects so many Americans. After suffering a serious injury or illness, it can be hard to pay the bills that will inevitably follow. In fact, more than 137 million Americans say they are struggling to pay their medical debt. According to a study published by the Journal of Internal Medicine, this many adults have faced some type of medical financial hardship in the past year.

When someone is sick or injured, it will often cause them to miss work or they may not be able to return to work ever again. Due to the loss of income and oftentimes the loss of insurance, the person will struggle to pay their medical bills when they become due.  Their financial situations can get so out of control that many of these individuals are forced to dip into their retirement savings prior to reaching retirement age to pay off some of their bills. However, pulling savings early will only help so much, which is why so many consumers end up filing for personal bankruptcy as a result. It is reported that 66.5 percent of all personal bankruptcies are related to some type of medical debt.

Bankruptcy Law, Medical Debt

Why So Many Americans Over the Age of 55 are Filing for Bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy offers filers a fresh financial start, but for many bankruptcy petitioners, that start comes later in life. In the past three decades, the number of people over the age of 55 who have filed for bankruptcy has gone up significantly. This increase has many financial experts wondering why so many individuals nearing retirement are filing for bankruptcy.

According to a paper by Robert Lawless, the percentage of older Americans, specifically between the ages of 55 and 64, increased by 66 percent between the year 1991 and 2016. The number of bankruptcies filed by individuals between 65 and 74 increased by more than 200 percent between this time period. In fact, approximately 12 percent of all bankruptcy filers are over the age of 65.

Bankruptcy Law, Medical Debt

University of Virginia Health System Sues Patients, Putting Liens on Homes and Seizing Paychecks

Medical debt remains the leading cause of bankruptcy in America. Thousands of patients at University of Virginia Health Systems (UVA) have seen the devastating consequences of past due medical debt.

Over the course of six years ending in June 2018, the University of Virginia Health System sued former patients over 36,000 times for a sum of over $106 million. The hospital has seized wages and bank accounts of former patients and have put liens on homes and property. This information comes from a Kaiser Health News study, which reviewed UVA Health System’s court records, hospital files, and interviewed hospital officials, as well as former patients.

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

Sky-High Insurance Deductibles and Drug Prices Leave Sick Americans with No Recourse

As more employers lean towards offering their employees high deductible medical insurance plans, the cost of medical care is quickly becoming something many Americans cannot afford.

Insurance deductibles are not the only aspect of medical care that has skyrocketed in recent years. Drug prices have more than tripled in the last 12 years. Americans spend an average of $1,350 a year on prescription medication alone. If a patient is suffering from a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, that cost is even more.

According to a recent study by Callaghan, Americans who took multiple sclerosis medications for their condition paid an average of $3,708 per year out of pocket for their medication. This same medication only cost $244 on average 15 years ago, which goes to show how much costs have gone up over the years.

The fact of the matter is being sick in America is more expensive now than ever before.  Another study by Milliman, a national healthcare consulting firm, found that the average patient fighting lymphoma paid $3,700 in the 12 months immediately following the diagnosis. If the diagnosis was acute leukemia, the cost was more than $5,100 for medication treatment.

Someone can be financially stable and relatively healthy, only to receive a devastating cancer diagnosis, something that will not just hurt him or her physically and emotionally but financially, as well. According to the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research in Seattle, cancer patients were twice as likely to file for bankruptcy. That diagnosis can easily set a person back hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on their insurance coverage and the types of treatment required.

High deductible health insurance plans often put the patient in a tough financial spot, even if the person has basic health needs to meet, let alone a chronic condition that requires the person to regularly take medication. In some Western European countries, such as France and Britain, they have national healthcare systems that limit cost sharing for patients with certain chronic conditions. These systems make these prescription drugs available at no cost to the patients. However, the U.S., which has a federal law that prohibits high deductible insurance plans from exempting payment for these services. Patients have no choice but to pay for them in full until they reach their deductibles, which can be thousands of dollars later.

The result is many patients who have serious chronic medical conditions will not follow medical advice and will delay or even refuse treatment for fear of the cost that comes along with it. If someone is seriously injured and needs to receive emergency treatment, he or she may decide not to call 911 if that person has a high deductible plan. No matter how deep the savings may be in the patient’s health savings account, that one medical crisis could completely deplete that account, forcing the patient to charge these services or default on them in the event he or she cannot pay for them.

A recent national poll conducted by The Times found that American consumers who live in a household where someone has a chronic medical condition are twice as likely to have to cut spending on household expenses to pay for medical care. In fact, one in eight American workers who lived in a household where someone was chronically sick had to declare bankruptcy due to their medical bills. This same study showed that sick Americans were more likely to use less healthcare when their insurance plans required them to pay more out-of-pocket.

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.

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.

 

Related Resource:

 

https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-health-insurance-sick-patients-high-bills-20190606-story.html