Medical bills contribute significantly to bankruptcy

Posted by Lauren S. CohenFeb 18, 20190 Comments

Many people in New York have trouble dealing with medical bills. Pursuing necessary medical treatment may leave Americans with substantial debt that is almost impossible to repay. In fact, over two-thirds of all bankruptcy filings across the country involve medical expenses as part of the overall debt burden. According to a recently released study, around 530,000 people and families file for bankruptcy every year due to the financial impact of a serious illness.

The study was the first performed on the relationship between bankruptcy and medical bills since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010. According to the researchers, many people are “just one serious illness away” from needing to file for bankruptcy. Even people with medical insurance can suffer major financial consequences from health care treatment. This is due to the number of exclusions, copayments and deductibles that are expensive. The researchers examined a random sample of 910 bankruptcy filings across the United States between 2013 and 2016. According to the researchers, 58.5 percent of bankruptcies were tied to medical bills while 44.3 percent were related to illness-related loss of income. Many people filing cited both issues.

The researchers also noted that people who lose their jobs due to illness also often lose the protections of their employment-based health care. They are then forced to look for a new insurer in the marketplace while struggling with a serious illness. Researchers also noted that bankruptcy filings are more common among middle-class Americans while lower-income people may not have the funds to seek legal assistance.

Bankruptcy offers the opportunity for debt relief and a new financial future for people struggling with crippling debt. Someone who is facing bills that they can no longer afford to pay can consult with a bankruptcy lawyer about the options available.