Health Care Costs Number One Cause of Bankruptcy for American Families

Attorney Ed WoodsThe cost of health care is a major concern for nearly all Americans and there is no shortage of health care related news coverage recently. Understandably, there are lots of questions and forecasts about what might be about to happen. Will the Affordable Care Act a/k/a “Obamacare” be repealed? Will anything replace it? If so, what will replace it? How much will it cost taxpayers and consumers? And while there are many questions and much uncertainty at present, one thing seems inevitable to me at least. The cost of health care will almost certainly continue to rise. These costs will continue to be a major expenditure for many Americans. At times, these costs will be overwhelming regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C.

Health Care and Bankruptcy

According to an article at I was reading yesterday, health care costs are the #1 cause of bankruptcy for America’s families. Now, this is not news to me as I frequently counsel with individuals and families who are facing substantial medical and other debt. But what caught my attention was the magnitude of the problem. According to the article, 56 million people struggle with medical debt each year. About 8.9% of these people could not afford to pay anything towards these medical debts. Eleven (11) million of these people ran up high interest credit card debt to pay their medical debts. Think about that for a moment. These people did not have the income to pay their medical debts so they took out a high interest loan to do so. So, for example, if such a person owed $1,000.00 in medical debt and charged it to their credit card at say 28% interest, how much more money that they don’t have will they need to finally pay the “medical” bill? Where is that money going to come from? How do you break out of that cycle?

Turning Medical Debt Into More Debt

The article contained another sad statistic. Ninety (90%) percent of those who had homes took out a second mortgage on their homes to pay their medical debt. This means that these people have turned their medical debt into mortgage debt to deal with the situation. Such a tactic is rarely, if ever, a smart option.

According to the article, these people are not the very poor in our society. Rather, they are middle class people. Two-thirds of them were homeowners. Sixty (60%) percent of them were college graduates. Some had private insurance and still had to cough up an average of $17,749.00 per family. These were people who were facing large and unexpected out-of-pocket costs for health care.

And, finally, according to the article, sixty-two (62%) of the two million personal bankruptcies filed each year are the result of medical debt.

So, if you are facing overwhelming medical bills that you cannot possibly afford to pay, you are clearly not alone. Bankruptcy may indeed be the best (and perhaps only) way to address the situation. As a consumer bankruptcy lawyer, I have helped many families over the years get the peace of mind (and stress relief) they deserve when faced with overwhelming debts they couldn’t possibly pay out of their household budget. And whether you consult with our firm or another competent and reputable consumer bankruptcy lawyer, you owe it to yourself and your family to get the help you need. You may be surprised just how good life can be without the crushing pressures of debt.

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