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Medical expenses drive many to file for bankruptcy

Many Massachusetts residents are struggling to get by. The poor economy may have left them with stagnate wages, low pay, or unemployment. When unexpected life changes hit, these individuals may be left in a dire financial predicament. Sometimes these situations are so extreme that individuals have to choose between paying bills and buying food. No one should have to live like this, but unfortunately many who receive medical care are struggling financially.

A study conducted by the website NerdWallet found 56 million Americans are struggling to handle their medical expenses. An estimated 15 million of those people are draining their savings as a result. An example of the problem is portrayed by a working mother whose son broke his femur jumping off a trampoline. The woman was stuck with a $40,000 bill for medical care. Though she was able to negotiate the bill down to $18,000, she could only afford to pay less than $100 a month. This was not enough for her servicers, who turned her bills over for collection. This type of story is not uncommon and it is affecting those with and without health insurance.

As seen by this story, medical expenses can lead to overwhelming debt. An individual in such a situation not only has to struggle to make payments on her debt, but she also has to face the stress of trying to make ends meet, care for a family, and deal with creditor harassment. When these elements take hold an individual may feel as if there is no help available. But luckily a Massachusetts attorney can provide debt relief options.

Perhaps the best option for those facing high medical debt is to file for personal bankruptcy. There are two primary routes when filing for bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows an individual to eliminate debt by liquidating, or selling, her assets to pay creditors. If this option is chosen, an attorney can discuss some exemptions that exist to allow the individual to keep some property. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes the individual's debt so that she faces more manageable payments. This allows the individual to keep her assets as long as payments are made.

Bankruptcy can sound scary. But it is a real debt relief option for individuals to find a new start with firm financial footing. With the help of a caring bankruptcy attorney, the individual will hopefully find a new life without fearing phone calls from creditors.

Source: The Clarion Ledger, "Medical bankruptcy claims rising as residents struggle to pay bills," Jerry Mitchell, Oct. 5, 2013

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