The Obama Administration’s recent landmark health care laws will mean exciting changes for Americans seeking better medical insurance and/or facing crushing medical debt. But for many, these changes can’t come quickly enough. And for some the changes may come late—especially for already beleaguered and bankruptcy bound individuals facing unexpected illnesses, injuries or surgeries.
So what can you do to minimize the financial impact of an unexpected a medical emergency?
Step One – Assess the Damage
In the case of a medical emergency, you rarely have time to weigh the pros and cons of health care costs. Nevertheless, an important step once the bills are a foregone conclusion is to take some time to calculate the costs. What’s the final total of all of your medical bills? Has your injury or illness left you unable to work—either temporarily or for the long haul? Will you be able to keep your job, or a steady income, despite your disability?
Once you’ve assessed your fiscal (and physical) conditions, you can determine how the bills will balance with your budget, and how your medical condition will ultimately affect your ability to pay back those bills.
Step Two – Keep in Contact with your Creditors
Even amid injury or illness, it is of the utmost importance to stay connected with your medical creditors. Find out if your creditors would be willing to put off your payments while you’re out of action. Some creditors will acquiesce to your request for two or three month reprieve while you get back on you feet, always with the understanding that you will ultimately begin the repayment process once your deferment has ended. Keep in mind, this type of reprieve is only temporary; if you’re facing a long-term disability or an extended loss of income, your options may be limited to default or a discharge of this type of unsecured debt through the benefits of bankruptcy.
Step Three – Pay for the Priorities
Even if you’re bankruptcy bound due to overwhelming medical bills, it’s important to continue to pay what you can on secured debts like your home, car, etc. Even if you choose to dispense with your unsecured medical bills via bankruptcy, you’ll still want to pay for the things you’ll attempt to keep post filing. In short, if you’re able redirect available funds to keep your precious property versus paying down unsecured medical or consumer debts.
Step Four – Weigh Your Options, Including the Benefits of Bankruptcy
In some cases, when facing mounting medical debt without insurance, talking to your hospital’s billing department can help to reduce the damage. But the reality is, in most cases, emergency medical costs are a lingering problem leaving one easier option: bankruptcy. According to recent reports, medical bills played a role in 62% of personal bankruptcies filed in 2007, up 7% from 2001. Shockingly, 78% of these filers actually had health insurance.
If you are suffering from illness, injury and out of control debt, and considering filing a medical-related bankruptcy, it is important to remember that as unsecured debt, medical bills can be discharged entirely under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Indeed, bankruptcy may be just what you need to help you get back on your financial feet again.
The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button and let these experts smoke out your next best financial steps.
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