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The problem with medical debt continues


Even with the recent healthcare reforms approaching its 10th birthday, bankruptcy due to medical debt is an ongoing problem both in the Louisville area and the rest of the country. How much of a problem medical debt is, however, is a subject that is up to some debate.

According to some comments by the former President, 1 million people were filing bankruptcy annually because of uncovered medical expenses. Others estimated over 643,000 people filing bankruptcy annually because of their medical debt.

The problem with some of these statistics is that they are old and were compiled during the Great Recession of last decade, a time in which a lot more people were filing bankruptcy across the board. Moreover, the reality is that people do not have to specify exactly why they are filing bankruptcy, and, in fact, many families filing for bankruptcy do so because a variety of financial problems affect them at the same time.

On the lower end of estimates, about 1 in 4 bankruptcies are caused by problems with medical bills. While this may yield lower raw numbers than what some have estimated, it is still a significant problem when necessary medical care forces 25 percent of all bankruptcies.

While some might see it bankruptcy for medical debt as an unnecessary expense, in many cases, it is simply a necessary means of getting a fresh financial start.

Hospitals and doctors are generally under no obligation to negotiate their bills, and many times, no matter how hard one tries, high medical expenses simply cannot be anticipated. As much as one may want to avoid it, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the best means to discharge medical debt.

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