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Medical debt behind many Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings

Forking out money for medical bills can be annoying. After all, many people in Florida are already shelling out significant monthly payments for health insurance, and added bills can really compound financial worries. In some cases, those medical bills can do more than just stress out the recipient -- they can lead to Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A study from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project -- CBP -- discovered that medical debt contributes to over 66 percent of all bankruptcy filings. This amounts to about 500,000 medical bankruptcies every year. Many people hoped that the Affordable Care Act would cause those numbers to go down, but that was not the case. Instead, medical bankruptcy filings have remained steady.

The CBP study highlighted several factors that contribute to overwhelming medical debt. For those who are insured, high co-pays and deductibles can create a snowball effect of medical debt. In some situations, insufficient coverage for disability can cause patients to sink further and further into debt. Some of the hardest hit in these scenarios are middle class families who straddle a line between earning enough to afford insurance coverage, but not having quite enough disposable income to meet the endless stream of deductibles, uncovered medical services, co-pays and surprise bills.

Most people in Florida and across the rest of the country are simply not prepared to handle significant medical debt. Even those who do their best to save their money and pay their bills on time are often left without a lifeline once a surprise debt shows up in their mailbox. While this might feel like a hopeless situation, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can give those individuals overwhelmed by debt the financial lifeline they need to move forward with their lives.

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Paul Urich
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