The rise of healthcare costs and medical debt is causing a substantial amount of stress among Americans. Roughly 158 million Americans have employer-sponsored health insurance (more than two million in South Carolina). That means there are millions more Americans who pay for health insurance out-of-pocket. Within the last decade, the average family insurance premium went up by as much as 54 percent, leaving roughly one-third of Americans concerned about paying medical bills.
According to the Prevalence and Correlates of Medical Financial Hardship in the USA study, there are 137.1 million Americans who have experienced medical financial hardship within the past year. Adults ages 18 to 64 and people without health insurance reported most of the financial hardship. On the other hand, the number of families experiencing issues paying medical bills dropped from 19.7 percent in 2011 to 14.2 percent in 2018.
What are my options if I'm struggling with medical debt?
If medical bills aren't paid for, interest and late fees can build up, further creating more financial challenges for medical debt holders. Unpaid medical debt can also be passed along to a debt collection agency, which can hurt a debt holder's credit score. If the debt isn't paid, debt holders can face wage garnishment. This occurs when a portion of a debt holder's wages are withheld to pay the debt. Fortunately, Americans who are struggling with medical debt have options.
If your medical debt is manageable, you may be able to work out a debt repayment plan, negotiate your debt, or take out a personal loan. But if the financial hardship caused by your medical debt is too overwhelming, bankruptcy may be an option worth considering.
Medical bills are considered "unsecured debt" in South Carolina. That means the medical debt has no collateral for the lender. Collateral typically includes certain property and assets, such as real estate, cars and investments. Unsecured debt can be completely discharged in chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your other option is to file for chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows you to pay a portion of your debt over the course of 3-5 years in installments.
Bankruptcy can help you in the following ways:
- You will no longer receive calls from creditors
- Let's you keep your property and prevents foreclosures
- Helps you eliminate your debt
- Helps you if you lost your job or are dealing with a medical hardship
How do I know if bankruptcy is right for me?
To help you determine if bankruptcy is right for you, Benjamin R. Matthews and Associates, LLC has put together a bankruptcy quiz. We urge you to take this quiz and consult with us if you answer "yes" to two or more of the items. Whether you're struggling with medical debt, credit cards, utility bills, personal loans or other dischargeable debt, our legal team would be glad to sit down with you and go over your legal options.
Our law firm has handled thousands of cases like yours since 1985. We offer free initial consultations to our clients. Contact us online or call us today to get started. We have law offices in Columbia, Florence and Rock Hill, South Carolina.