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

 

 

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

Medical Debt Still the Leading Cause of Bankruptcy for Many Floridians

Medical debt is a major issue that burdens many Floridians. In fact, it is one of the top reasons that Americans in general struggle with debt they can never quite seem to conquer. For many of these individuals, bankruptcy is the only way out. However, the process of getting to that decision can be stressful.

As healthcare costs rise, many people are struggling to pay for their regular medical expenses incurred every year. Add one major medical crisis on top of those regular bills, and the expenses can get out of control quickly. With the repeal of Obamacare and the fact that individuals are no longer required to carry health insurance, the number of individuals filing for bankruptcy due to medical debt is expected to increase.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it is estimated that 25 percent of all U.S. adults struggle to keep up with their medical bills. If your medical costs are getting out of hand and you find that you are not able to keep up with payments, what are your options? You should never simply ignore the bills and calls from collectors, hoping they will go away.

One option is to work with the medical provider on a possible payment plan to pay the debt off over time. Many providers are more than willing to work with someone so long as the individual contacts the company sooner rather than later. As soon as the account goes into default and a collection case is filed, it may be too little too late to work with them.

The problem is many of these individuals are not able to even communicate with the provider quickly because of their medical conditions which led to the debt to begin with. Many of them are already struggling in terms of health, which can make keeping up with financial matters extremely difficult.

If someone has an otherwise stellar credit score but suddenly falls ill and faces thousands of dollars in medical bills, it can be a major hit to the ego to decide that the situation calls for filing for bankruptcy. However, it often is the best decision to make. If the debt will likely be discharged in a bankruptcy case, it can be fruitless for someone to struggle paying the bills and delay the inevitable filing. While bankruptcy can put a mark on your credit, it can easily be fixed through positive financial habits and proper budgeting. The fear of what filing will do to your credit report should not keep you in a stressful financial situation, especially if you are already overwhelmed with a medical situation. A bankruptcy attorney can evaluate your situation and advise you on the best way to proceed, whether it be working directly with the medical provider or filing for bankruptcy.

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.

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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

When Filing for Bankruptcy is the Best Option for Medical Debt

It only takes one medical crisis to set you back thousands of dollars.  In fact, medical debt is the number one reason people file for bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy is a part of the U.S. Constitution built to help people in financial crisis. So how do you know when it’s the right time to file bankruptcy?

The following factors are indicators that you should consider filing for bankruptcy, or at least sit down with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options in more detail.

  • If your debt amount is more than 40 percent of your income. The higher the debt-to-income ratio a person has, the less likely it is he or she will earn enough money to ever pay back the debt;
  • If you are using debt, such as credit cards or unsecured personal loans, to pay for other debts;
  • If your debts include items that can be liquidated in bankruptcy, such as medical debt, credit cards or personal loans;
  • You are using payday loans to help cover necessities before your next paycheck. This is oftentimes a sign your expenses are exceeding your income;
  • If you are forgoing necessities such as healthcare, prescriptions, or food;
  • If the collection calls have reached a breaking point;
  • If you have been threatened with a lawsuit, are being sued by a creditor or your wages are being garnished.

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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.