Medical Debt and Bankruptcy – Can I Still Get Treatment?
When a person is in massive debt, they often look back and wonder how they got there. In most cases, their problems start small and look manageable. However, debt can become a snowball, getting larger and larger until it is uncontrollable. Often, we find that many people lose control of their debt after an unexpected event like a medical emergency.
Many people also put off filing for bankruptcy because they do not want to lose their doctor.
Today, we want to talk about how bankruptcy can affect your future medical care. Please know that you should always speak to a qualified and experienced Arizona bankruptcy attorney when making decisions about your financial future.
You are not alone when it comes to medical debt
Before we start our discussion, we need to show you just how serious the medical debt problem is in the United States. During the latest reporting year in the US, there was more than $3.3 trillion spent on healthcare.
That is TRILLION with a “T.”
These numbers are nearly unfathomable. Now consider that the average daily hospital cost is over $5,000. It is no surprise that the Kaiser Family Foundation says that 26% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 have trouble paying their medical bills.
Will I lose my primary care physician?
The answer to this question is – possibly.
Non-emergency medical providers do not have to treat you, and there is a good chance they will not do so if they do not get paid. By the time you file for bankruptcy, there is a good chance you have already not been paying your primary care provider bills. Even if you have been making payments on your debt, bankruptcy will discharge the remaining debt.
- As soon as you know you cannot cover a medical bill, call your primary care providers. Speak to them and explain what is going on.
Do not get discouraged if you have to find other non-emergency providers. Remember, getting your debt wiped out is more important than finding a new doctor.
Click here for an article on medical debt in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
You will be treated in emergencies
Your debts and your ability to pay for medical care have nothing to do with you receiving medical treatment in an emergency.
- The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is a federal law that ensures public access to emergency services regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
Nearly all hospitals and emergency departments in the US fall under this law. In an emergency, they have to treat you and cannot transfer or discharge you while you need emergency care unless a transfer is necessary for you to receive adequate care.
Will bankruptcy get rid of my medical debt?
It depends on which type of bankruptcy you qualify for.
- In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your medical debt will be discharged like most of your other debts.
- In Chapter 13, your medical debt will be treated as an unsecured debt that becomes part of a payment plan to portion some of your income to all creditors in order of priority.
We are ready to help you today
We understand that there are many reasons people put off filing for bankruptcy. Please know that you should always seek help from an Arizona bankruptcy attorney before making any decisions. Your attorney will examine all of your finances and answer any questions you have about the process. Yes, you may lose your doctor, but you will still get medical care. The most important thing you can do for your health is getting out of debt and onto firm financial footing.
Click here for information on bankruptcy and child support.