Most Americans are unprepared to pay off medical debt, but there are steps people in Virginia can take to better insulate themselves against these types of costs. The first step is to build an emergency fund. This should be three months of expenses or at least the equivalent of the deductible for the person's health insurance. A health savings account can help with this.
It can be tough to save up the necessary money, but some people may be able to do so by reviewing their budget and finding places to cut back, such as avoiding eating out and spending less on entertainment. Some people might be able to get a second job.
However, it is not always possible to get these savings in place, and medical expenses may quickly outstrip them. According to Freedom Debt Relief, just 45% of people had the savings to pay off medical debt. Nearly half had to use a credit card while others borrowed money, sold something, took out a personal loan or got a payday loan. Just over one-third said they would use cash to pay off a medical bill of $2,000. More than half of all Americans have at least $1,000 in medical debt, and 10% have at least $20,000.
People who are struggling to pay off their medical debt might want to consider filing for bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves restructuring debts and paying them off over a period of three or five years. This can allow people to keep certain assets, such as a home. Filing for bankruptcy puts an immediate stop to any creditor actions, including phone calls, court cases and foreclosure. An attorney may be able to review a person's options for debt relief and assist in preparing the paperwork necessary to file for bankruptcy.