Health care costs here in the United States are staggering. Annual medical costs hover just over $10,345 per person here. It’s no wonder that one of the leading reasons why individuals file for bankruptcy here in Washington and elsewhere in the United States is because of their unpaid medical bills. If you’re struggling to pay off your medical debts, then you may want to explore what bankruptcy can and cannot do for your situation.
Many individuals refer to a concept called “medical bankruptcy.” There’s no such thing as this though. You can’t file for relief from your medical bills alone. You can if that’s truly the only debt that you have, but that’s not the case with most individuals as they have other bills. This is why many individuals who ultimately file for bankruptcy include other smaller debts when seeking a discharge of their balances.
One common question that consumers who are struggling to rise above medical debt often ask their attorneys is how filing for bankruptcy may affect their relationship with their long-term doctor.
If your doctor works for a health system then they’re less likely to take your filing as personally and decline continuing to see you if you discharge your debt. Your local doctor may handle things differently. Hospitals are required to abide by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986. Hospitals are prohibited from denying patient care simply because they don’t have the financial resources to pay.
What you should keep in mind is that there are many different types of bankruptcy if you ultimately decide to pursue this debt relief option. You may be able to have your debts forgiven completely if you pursue a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You may be able to work out a payment plan with your creditors by filing for Chapter 13 instead.
There are many pros and cons associated with filing for these different types of bankruptcy. Once you do, it will stay on your record for several years. An attorney can help you decide whether bankruptcy is right for you here in King County or if you should pursue some other type of lawful approach to debt relief in Washington state.