Medical bills are often an important factor in seeking bankruptcy relief. The good news is that they are mostly dischargeable, no matter how large. Given the exorbitant cost of medical care, these bills often grow huge. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are considering filing a bankruptcy to deal with medical bills.
- Medical bills are normally considered "unsecured" debt. That means they are not secured by your personal property (unlike a car loan or a mortgage), and therefore they can be discharged (or eliminated) like other unsecured debt such as credit cards. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, medical bills are completely eliminated. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may have to repay some or all of the debt, but it will be over a 3-to-5 year plan, and without interest. In either case, bankruptcy will probably be your best option for dealing with the burden.
- Make sure you gather up all of your medical bills for review by your attorney. Many medical providers do not report the bills to credit agencies, so they oftentimes do not show up on credit reports. Find your medical bills and provide a copy to your attorney. If you cannot find the statements, call your health care provider and ask for one. This is important, because just like other unsecured debts, medical bills are NOT discharged if they are not included in your bankruptcy petition.
- Let your attorney know if your medical condition is ongoing, or resolved. While medical bills are dischargeable in bankruptcy, you may run the risk that your health care provider in non-emergency situations may stop providing service if they are included in your bankruptcy petition. Timing is important, a good bankruptcy attorney will discuss your options.
Many of my clients are not even aware of some older medical bills. It is best to round up everything when you file a bankruptcy, there is no reason to pay a bill later that can be included and discharged now.
As a Pittsburgh bankruptcy attorney, I would be happy to review your medical bills and help you determine if bankruptcy is an option for you. Contact us for a free consultation.