Medical bankruptcy is one of the most misunderstood terms in medical finance. There is actually no “medical bankruptcy”. That being said, medical problems have consistently been one the 3 leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States.
Although there is technically no medical bankruptcy a medical problem can certainly cause you to find yourself in bankruptcy court. Medical problems can be a double whammy; they reduce or eliminate your income and cause you to incur massive debt. In many cases you have virtually no chance of ever repaying this debt, it’s just too large. Many people find themselves in a position of losing their homes and other valuable possessions in an attempt to repay their huge medical bills.
Often, seeking the protection of bankruptcy isn’t something desirable but it’s seen as the only way out. You may think that having health insurance will provide protection against such a financial calamity, however almost 50% of all bankruptcies are caused by people facing massive amounts of medical debt even though they had medical insurance at the time of their accident or illness.
Sadly, there are also a significant percentage of medical related bankruptcies that are filed by people that aren’t really facing huge medical bills. Almost 40% of medically related bankruptcies were filed by people who owed $5,000 or less in medical bills. In many cases this is due to the medical industry being much more aggressive in collection actions than they once were. In other cases people are just not educated about how to proceed in such cases. Once the collection letters begin arriving, fear sets in, and many people just don’t look at all their options.
Yes, filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy can protect your assets and allow you to keep your primary residence if your home falls within state guidelines. These vary by state. Filing for bankruptcy protection however, is can present you with huge problems down the road and will essentially destroy your credit rating. You should carefully consider your other options before considering using bankruptcy as a shield to protect you from medical bills.
You might consider calling an attorney in your state that specializes in such matters. Your first call however should be to your creditors. The first line of defense should be making arrangements for some sort of alternate payment plan. Bankruptcy is a messy business and most creditors would rather avoid is almost as much as you would.