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Health care costs and bankruptcy

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2020 | Firm News

Holiday spending tends to be a topic that garners a lot of attention every year. However, for many people in Massachusetts, any costs associated with gift giving at the end of the year may not be the biggest financial worry they have to face. Instead, it seems that getting proper medical treatment when needed leaves a number of people struggling to make ends meet.

Earlier this year, CNBC reported on the results of a study that evaluated bankruptcy filings over the course of four years from 2013 through 2016. Among the pool of cases reviewed, two out of three were influenced by excessive medical debt. As many as 530,000 bankruptcy filings each year may be caused at least in part by medical debt.

The medical debt identified in the study did not include just the cost of care such as co-pays. It also included the lost wages or salaries that people experienced when they were unable to work due to their health needs. Even people who can claim disability benefits when they cannot work only receive a portion of what they would earn if they could work.

Bankruptcy offers consumers one way out from under medical debt. A non-profit organization has been founded that focuses solely on this growing problem. Called RIP Medical Debt, the organization was ironically founded by two former debt collectors. Donations are used to purchase debt and pay off accounts for people with low incomes or whose medical debt exceeds a certain percent of their overall income. To date, more than $1 billion in medical debt has been eliminated thanks to this effort.