Nobody wants to deal with medical bills, but when a medical emergency occurs, you will do whatever it takes to save your life or the life of a loved one. Get an MRI? Sure. Run bloodwork? Of course. Perform surgery? Yes. Stay in the hospital for a few days? You may even be forced to take a LifeFlight ride which typically ranges in the $1,000-$1,500 per mile fee if needed.
You get better, go home, and you’re happy to put the whole incident behind you. Until the medical bills come. And they will come, often times seemingly from all directions. Some hospitals send individual bills for each doctor, department, or operating area. One medical emergency can cost you tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars – even after insurance. They might offer a payment plan, but even that might be too much for you to afford.
What do you do?
Filing for bankruptcy is an option.
How Filing for Bankruptcy Can Discharge Your Medical Bills
When you’re drowning in medical debt, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can enable you to discharge your debt.
When deciding between the two, there are items to consider, including:
- Your income. Your earnings need to be below a certain level to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You will need to take a means test to prove your income. If you don’t qualify for Chapter 7, then you can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- Retaining assets. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may need to liquidate some of your property to pay off your debts. However, you can work with your bankruptcy attorney to try to avoid selling off your property by making the assets exempt. You can retain your assets in Chapter 13 because you will instead pay off your debt through a repayment plan.
- Repaying debt. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will pay back some of your debts by creating a court-approved repayment plan. In this arrangement, you will submit monthly payments to a court-appointed trustee, who will then submit payments to your creditors. These plans span three to five years. After it is completed, your bankruptcy will be finalized and your remaining debts may be discharged.
- More bills. Are you expecting more medical bills to roll in? Before filing for bankruptcy, make sure all of the bills are in. Otherwise, you will then face additional debt when the other bills arrive.
- Other debt. When filing for bankruptcy, you cannot file solely on your medical bills. Instead, you must include all of your debt in the bankruptcy. When you file bankruptcy, your entire financial picture will be inspected by the court.
You’re Not Alone
Don’t feel shame if you cannot afford to pay your medical bills. Medical bills are the No. 1 reason for people to file bankruptcy. Medical costs add up. In a hospital, every dose of medicine is billed to you – plus a fee for someone to administer it. You are charged a significant amount of money for one night in the hospital. Every item used during surgery is charged. Not surprisingly, this adds up to astronomical bills. If you are being treated for a serious illness or have a long stay in the hospital, or require ongoing care, it can leave you drowning in debt and can impact your ability to cover your day-to-day expenses.
Consult An Attorney
While filing for bankruptcy can discharge your medical debt, it’s important to work with an attorney to ensure it’s the right choice for you. Filing bankruptcy can impact your ability to keep seeing your current doctors – as they might refuse services if your bills were discharged – and can affect your credit. Talk to a bankruptcy expert and determine the best debt solution for you.
Let Us Help You
When you’re considering filing for bankruptcy to discharge your medical debt, let our lawyers at The Law Offices of Alexzander C.J. Adams, P.C. help you sort through your options. We work for you, the people, and not institutions. Contact us for a free case evaluation, or no-obligation consultation. We are dedicated to helping you overcome this small bump in the road and assisting you to get on with your life.