Recently, NerdWallet Health published an article that estimates that 56 million Americans under the age of 65 will struggle with medical debts in the year 2013. Astonishingly, NerdWallet stated that one in five American adults will struggle to pay medical debts this year. The article further stated that medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
NerdWallet’s study in this area is a follow-up and comports with the findings in 2004 by Senator Elizabeth Warren in a paper she published titled “Illness and injury as contributors to bankruptcy.” This article by Senator Warren, then a law professor at Harvard University, along with doctors David Himmelstein, Deborah Thorn and Steffie Woolhandler, found that medical debt was a major contributor to bankruptcy filings. Senator Warren and doctors Himmelstein, Thorn and Woolhandler followed up their paper with a 2007 clinical research study published by the American Journal of Medicine titled “Medical bankruptcy in the United States 2007: Results of a national study.” The conclusion of this study was that “illness and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of U.S. bankruptcies.”
The universal experience amongst all of our attorneys is that medical bills and medical debt do, in fact, unfortunately contribute to bankruptcy filings. It really is a function of common sense and every day experiences that all of us have. If you have co-pays and medical debt, even while insured, everyone knows how quickly that can add up. If people are uninsured, which unfortunately is a situation in which many of the people we meet with find themselves, then the medical bills are astronomical and can get out of hand very quickly. This is coupled with the fact that medical debt often times gets turned over to debt collectors. Both the original medical collector and the debt collector then begin constant harassment attempting to get paid on the debt which can then result in ruined credit and lawsuits in an attempt to collect the debt.
Very few of us are fortunate enough to have perfect health insurance. If you are one of the lucky ones to have it, do everything in your power to hang onto it. If you do not have health insurance, or if you have less than adequate health insurance and medical debt is becoming overwhelming to you and you are being inundated by collection calls, letters and/or lawsuits, please feel free to contact our office nearest to you to set up a free consultation with one of our licensed attorneys in a private and confidential setting.
Ron Sykstus is a Managing Partner of several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices throughout Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a Juris Doctorate from the Northern Illinois University College of Law. Ron has served in numerous positions throughout the U.S. Army and now utilizes his expertise in the areas of VA issues, security clearances, military law, and bankruptcy to assist his clients when they need it most. Read his full bio here.