If you have been keeping up with your expenses, making ends meet and even socking a little away for a modest vacation or home repairs, you may have felt discouraged when you or a loved one suffered a chronic or sudden illness or a debilitating injury.
Even if you have health insurance, you likely faced thousands of dollars in deductibles before the insurance benefits kicked in. Perhaps, like many in California whose employers do not provide health insurance benefits, you may have found the premiums too costly for your budget. Now you are facing overwhelming medical debt.
Medical debt can disrupt your life
As long as it took you to save up those few dollars, they were quickly gone, and your plans to pay the mounting medical bills may be uncertain. Perhaps you have already maxed out your credit cards or borrowed from family members, adding more stress to your financial burden. If the medical emergency you or your loved one suffered resulted in missed days at work or a job loss altogether, your family may face some difficult times ahead.
You are likely dealing with the same dilemma facing many who have medical debt. Which bills do you pay, and which do you skip? Is it better to skip the mortgage, the car payment or the credit card bill in order to pay down the medical debt? Should you declare bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy may not be necessary
You may be relieved to know there are options other than bankruptcy. While the debt relief you receive through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy offer alternatives that may benefit you, you may wish to explore any of the following possibilities:
- Examine your bill carefully for mistakes and duplicate billing.
- Request a payment plan through your medical care provider.
- Apply for an income-based assistance program.
- Negotiate for reduced charges from your provider.
Financial advisors do not recommend using your credit card, a high-interest loan or other quick fixes to cope with your medical bills. Additionally, ignoring medical bills may result in serious damage to your credit rating as well as the risk that the provider will file a lawsuit or take other drastic measures to collect the debt.
You will certainly benefit from the advice and guidance of a legal professional who will help you explore all your options, including the debt relief offered through bankruptcy.