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

An alarming number of Americans struggle with medical debt

There's a saying related to the belief that if you don't have your health, you don't have anything. This saying is likely to resonate with anyone who has ever experienced a health emergency or is struggling to deal with and manage a chronic health condition. Whether an individual is forced to undergo emergency surgery after a serious car accident or a scheduled procedure to clear blocked heart arteries, the involved costs are likely to be both physically and financially taxing.

According to a recent study conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health; 26 percent of polled participants reported experiencing "a serious financial problem" due to the high costs of health care.

Of those respondents who admit that high health care costs led to financial problems, 44 percent attempted to pay down or off medical debt by setting up "a payment plan with a hospital or health care provider." Additionally, an alarming 42 percent admit that they spent all or most of their personal savings to pay off medical debts and 27 percent say that medical debt impeded their ability to afford "basic necessities like food, heat or housing."

The results of this study are in line with national statistics which, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, show that one in five Americans "have medical debt on their credit reports," proving that many Americans struggle to repay medical bills. Likewise, individuals who attempt to use credit cards or take out loans to repay medical debt often also experience financial hardships as a result.

Long Island residents, who are struggling to deal with medical debt, may choose to contact a bankruptcy attorney. Medical debt is among the types of debts that are dischargeable in bankruptcy and an attorney can assess one's situation and help determine if bankruptcy is a good option.

Source: NPR.org, "Medical Debt Rains Pain On Families, Even In the Sunshine State," Sammy Mack, March 17, 2016

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