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Medical Bankruptcy

Be prepared— it’s a motto the Girl Scouts live by and it’s an adage we should all adopt. Life is full of surprises. We should be ready for it all.

Every day, people are living without health insurance. This is not being prepared. If something were to happen (i.e.: a wreck, a massive heart attack, cancer) they would be devastated by a massive medical bill.

A study published in The New England Medical Journal shows that expenses caused by hospitalization of an injury or illness had a significant impact on individual’s finances. This is because either their bills were extreme or they lost their income during their illness/injury. Four percent of people in the United States will file bankruptcy over medical expenses. Sixty-three percent of people will have financial hardships involving medical expenses.

If you search the web for stories of people who were consumed with financial debt while living with diabetes, or how someone with a chronic condition like asthma can’t afford their prescriptions and the care they need to maintain their disease, and you’ll find numerous stories.

Forty-three percent of Americans can’t pay for prescriptions because of the cost, according to WebMD. Almost 20% people will go without food to pay for their medical expenses.  Even if some of these people file for bankruptcy, 1/3 of them will continue to struggle with medical debt throughout their lives. Bankruptcy can haunt every area of your life, but it can be avoided.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your medical finances in check:

  • Make sure you are insured.
  • If you are insured, know what your insurance covers.
  • Review your bills closely. Double billings can happen. Challenge anything that you feel is incorrect.
  • Avoid taking out loans. If you are not working, how will you pay this additional loan? You should not put your home at risk by using a home equity loan. Your credit card may be a safer option.
  • Know your options: Ask your insurance agent about options. There may be charities that can help pay your medical bills. Ask the medical billing office about payment plans.

If you think a medical emergency would never happen to you, wouldn’t you want to be prepared just in case?

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