Jeffrey M. Rosenblum, P.C.
A Fresh Start

Chapter 13 bankruptcy for out-of-pocket medical expenses

Long Island residents are aware of how medical expenses increase their financial stress. That is particularly true for the retired, who may suffer financial challenges due to out-of-pocket medical expenses.

A private foundation in New York called Commonwealth Fund stated that nearly 18 million adults in the country used at least 10 percent of their income for out-of-pocket medical bills in 2003. One of those adults, a 75-year-old widow, has the same dilemma when it comes to out-of-pocket medical costs.

Reportedly, the widow has coronary artery disease and was taken to a hospital to treat the disease. She was hospitalized three times in the previous 18 months and acquired a total of $36,000 in medical bills. The woman's health insurance coverage, through Medicare and Medicaid programs, covered most of her medical bills. However, the widow was obligated to pay $1,050, the out-of-pocket portion of the medical expenses.

As reported, the woman's main source of income comes from Social Security. With a $652 income per month, she has struggled pay the remaining bills. She then managed to negotiate with the hospital for a payment plan, but her medical debt was turned over to a debt-collection company, hurting her credit score and discouraging the woman from seeking another treatment in the hospital.

The increasing cost of out-of-pocket medical bills tends to squeeze the household income of retirees and employees. It also increases the chances of people struggling with overwhelming debts if they suffer injuries or illnesses. If that is the case; however, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy may relieve them of the consequences of medical debt.

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy in New York may be useful for people with unpaid medical bills to obtain manageable payments. Although Chapter 13 may take years to repay the debt, the repayment plan eases the debtor's burden from having to pay it all at once.

Source: Trib Live, "Rising medical costs burdening consumers more than ever," Alex Nixon, July 11, 2013