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Medical debt, a major source of debt collector calls


When a person in Kentucky becomes injured or ill, their only thought may be regaining their health. Unfortunately, in doing so, many people incur major expenses. In fact, in a landmark survey by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of over 2,000 individuals, 59 percent received a communication from a debt collector because of a medical bill. Moreover, 25 percent reported feeling threatened by those calls.

Medical debt is not the only reason debtors heard from debt collectors. Per the survey, 37 percent reported receiving a communication from a debt collector due to a telecommunication bill, and 28 percent reported receiving a call because of a utility bill.

This is troubling, as there are laws to protect debtors from predatory debt collectors. And, many people with medical debt had no choice but to incur it. After all, no one can anticipate suffering from a serious injury or illness. Nonprofit hospitals also cannot initiate "extraordinary collection actions," including contacting credit bureaus, until 120 days have passed since the first time the bill was sent to the patient.

Nonetheless, people facing medical bills that they simply cannot pay do have options for debt relief. One of these options is filing for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy can provide a means to stop creditor harassment, so that a person can address his or her debts in a proactive manner. Whether a debtor chooses a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy, filing for bankruptcy is the right move for some who need to discharge medical debt and move forward with a fresh financial start.

Source: NPR, "Medical Debt Is Top Reason Consumers Hear From Collection Agencies," Michelle Andrews, Jan. 24, 2017

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