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Survey shows medical debt concerns many families

The results of a survey regarding the expenses related to health care since the Affordable Care Act became effective were recently published. These included the opinions of consumers in New Jersey and six other states. Over half of respondents indicated that healthcare costs and medical debt are major concerns.

Some consumers responded that medical debts have placed additional burdens on other aspects of their financial stability. Some people admitted having used their savings and emergency funds to pay medical debts. Others have resorted to paying these debts with their credit cards.

Although such drastic measures can provide relief, it will likely be temporary as credit card debt will be the next source of debt-related stress. The survey shows that many consumers have set up payment plans for the medical debts, but that does not necessarily stop harassment by debt collectors. Only seven percent of the responders indicated that they have filed for bankruptcy to resolve their medical debt issues.

New Jersey consumers may not realize that medical debt may be discharged under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and it may be beneficial to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can explain the pros and cons of personal bankruptcy and the requirements for qualification for the different chapters. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 can protect consumers against creditor harassment, wage garnishments, foreclosure and more. Individuals without a regular income will likely qualify to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy under which some assets are liquidated to pay creditors while some unsecured debts, such as medical debts and credit card debt, may be discharged. Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers consumers with regular incomes the opportunities to continue paying their debts over extended periods according to court-approved payment plans.

Source: acainternational.org, "Survey: Consumers Report Reasonable Healthcare Costs, But Increasing Burdens Over Time", March 18, 2016

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