In a Gallup survey from 2017, it was shown that Americans hold around $88 billion in medical debt. These debts can add up as a result of small bills, like office visits, or larger emergencies, like heart attacks and brain injuries.
Around 137.1 million Americans have faced at least some financial hardship, as of 2019, because of these debts. In fact, health-care bills are the top reason why people consider filing for bankruptcy.
If you are someone who has high medical bills, you may be considering bankruptcy now as well. It’s not a bad idea, but you should first seek if there are alternatives, especially if you have a good credit score.
Alternatives to bankruptcy could include:
- Setting up a payment plan with the hospital or doctor’s office
- Consolidating your debt into a lower payment
- Negotiating with the hospital or doctor’s office to reduce what you owe
- Offering a lump-sum payment to settle the debt
Each of these offers you a way to minimize the damage to your credit score while also eliminating or reducing your medical debt. On the other hand, if your debt is overwhelming and you know you won’t be able to afford it, bankruptcy could be a good solution.
With Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll be able to reduce what you owe. Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates some of your assets to pay back creditors, then any qualified debts that remain can be discharged. With Chapter 13, you’ll pay back what you owe for between three and five years in monthly payments. The amount you pay will be negotiated. At the end of the bankruptcy, remaining debts are typically discharged.
These are some things to consider if you’re struggling with medical debt. Bankruptcy is there for you, but there are also alternatives to discuss.