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Medical debt can force Washington bankruptcy filings

Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act, many Washington residents are still mired in medical debt that threatens to bankrupt families who were blindsided by sudden illnesses or catastrophic injuries. Unpaid medical debts were the primary cause of the majority of personal bankruptcies in 2013.

Nationwide in 2013, 1.7 million people were in a family bankrupted by medical dept. The ACA intended for Medicaid expansions to pick up the slack in coverage lapses for uninsured Americans. However, not all states chose to expand their coverage. Further, even for some covered by insurance, the deductibles were too high to make much difference.

Deductibles continue to rise in both private and work-sponsored insurance plans, with the average running about $1,200. Some of the ACA plans sold through the marketplace required deductibles of $2,500 to $3,500 to be met before coverage kicks in. For families struggling to pay mortgages and keep the lights on, this can result in an untenable financial crisis.

No matter what led up to the mountain of medical bills that are staring you down, it is most important to seek a path out. Sometimes creditors are willing to negotiate with debtors, allowing them to pay pennies on dollars of medical debts to clear the books.

If your finances are just stretched too thin to cover your monthly bills and still make payments on past debts, it may be time to seek debt relief in the form of personal bankruptcy. A Washington bankruptcy attorney can help you weigh all of your financial options and determine whether bankruptcy is the best choice to help you and your family get a fresh start.

Source: Kitsap Sun, "Medical Debt Still a Problem Under Health Law — Despite Protections" Shefali Luthra, Feb. 04, 2015

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