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Medical expenses: A major cause of bankruptcy

Across the United States, more than 770,000 people filed for bankruptcy in 2018, according to the U.S. Courts. Nearly 500,000 of those cases involved liquidation bankruptcy or Chapter 7, which wipes clean most financial debt people owe to various creditors. One major cause of these bankruptcies involves the high rate of medical debt in the country, and the inability to pay off health care expenses accumulated from surgical procedures, injuries, emergency room visits and treatment for chronic conditions. In fact, 62% of people who filed for bankruptcy listed medical expenses as the main reason for their inability to keep up with their financial obligations.

Although Americans are required to carry health care insurance, many cannot keep up with high deductibles, copays and monthly premiums. Even after paying the monthly premium payment to purchase the insurance plan, people are responsible for paying up to 100% of the medical costs until the deductible is met. High deductible plans can reach up to $10,000 or more in some instances. It can be extremely difficult to stay on top of all of these expenses, especially if people are unable to work because of the medical condition or injuries. People who are forced to stay out of work while healing may find it even more difficult to keep up with medical payments.

Another reason for high medical debt involves the variance in medical charges across the country. A person who suffers from the same injury may be charged differently depending on the state they are treated in and which medical institution they go to. For instance, an ER visit for a sprained ankle may cost anywhere from $4 to $4,000 depending on which state you are treated in, as well as what hospital you go to.



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