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Bankruptcy may help those facing huge medical debt

People in Pennsylvania generally have some control over their lives: For instance, they can choose who to marry, where to live and what career to get. However, one thing a person can’t control is whether he or she falls ill. Learning that one has cancer or other serious conditions can be upsetting, and finding out how much medical debt one has to accrue in order to get the necessary treatments can be even more unsettling. Unfortunately, many more families today than ever before are unable to pay their medical bills upfront due to health plans with high deductibles; in their cases, bankruptcy might prove to be an advantageous option.

Medical debt causes problems for both patients and medical facilities. Hospitals can’t afford to operate if patients don’t pay their bills, so they are becoming more apt to send medical debt to collection agencies. This hurts consumers because even though medical debt doesn't affect a person’s credit score, being sent to collections does. A few steps may help those who are struggling to pay medical bills.

First, it’s important to carefully read all details in the medical bill to make sure that one isn't being overcharged. It may be necessary to ask for a bill that is itemized, especially if one had to do an inpatient surgery or some other complicated or expensive procedure. After all, double billing and other types of medical errors do happen.

It may also be beneficial to try to negotiate with a medical provider, particularly if one is lacking health insurance in Pennsylvania. What’s worse than getting sick is getting sick on top of having to contend with a whopping medical bill. Sometimes, it feels impossible to pay down an inordinate amount of debt, in which case personal bankruptcy may help people to free themselves of this debt and move on with their lives.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "What to Do When You Can't Pay Medical Bills", Abby Hayes, May 25, 2014

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