Virginia residents who accrue medical debt may find themselves in a tough financial position. According to one 2019 study, there could be as many as 530,000 Americans who have filed bankruptcy in the United States because of medical debt. The study itself found that 65.5% of the 910 respondents said that they filed for bankruptcy because of financial issues caused by a medical event. Bernie Sanders has cited the survey as part of his pitch to overhaul the American health care system.
When an individual gets hurt or sick, he or she may not be able to work. The lost income combined with the medical bills incurred may be what actually causes a person to file for protection from creditors. There are some ways that people can protect themselves financially before they experience a medical issue. For example, it may be possible to negotiate with a service provider to reduce or eliminate a balance owed.
It may also be possible to save money by choosing a doctor or hospital that is in an insurance company's network. Individuals should be sure that medical professionals who provide specialized services in a hospital are in an insurer's network. Finally, it may be possible to guard against a financial catastrophe by putting together an emergency savings fund.
Those who need help paying down a medical debt may want to consider filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding, an individual may be able to reorganize debt and pay it off over a period of three or five years. Generally speaking, unsecured debts are given a low priority, which means that an individual may pay little or nothing throughout the repayment period. Most unsecured debt balances that remain after the plan has ended may be discharged.