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Bankruptcy and Medical Bills

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Medical Bills and Bankruptcy

Your health should take priority over your finances -- but when it does, the results can sometimes be devastating. A 2005 study by Harvard University found that medical bills caused fully half of all bankruptcy filings. And three-quarters of those bankruptcy filers had medical insurance, at least when they first got sick. Thanks to the high cost of insurance, laws that allow insurers to drop the sick and the inability of many seriously ill people to continue their health insurance through work, the study showed that as many as 2 million Americans may declare bankruptcy each year because of a serious illness.

Medical debt is unsecured debt, which means there's no collateral available for the creditors to repossess. But without a bankruptcy filing or other protections, medical debt can be tied to the collateral you do own. After a few years of unpaid bills, a hospital or insurance company may be able to garnish your wages and claim part of your equity in a home, business or other valuable property.

If you feel overwhelmed by medical debt, a bankruptcy attorney can help. If you know you won't be able to pay your medical bills, but need to keep seeing the same doctors, a skilled bankruptcy attorney can help you set up your finances -- and sometimes prioritize payments -- to ensure that you can see the doctors you need and file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy down the line. If your debt was a one-time expense, an attorney can help you negotiate with the provider to set up a more realistic payment plan. And a bankruptcy attorney may also be able to shield you from harassing creditors while you're undergoing treatments, allowing you to focus on what matters most -- getting better. Call us today to speak with a bankruptcy attorney in your state about your individual circumstances.