Current news reports reveal that healthcare providers who make errors typically do not bear the resultant financial responsibilities for their mistakes. Instead, when a patient’s condition worsens because of treatment, he or she is usually expected to foot the bill.
Taking on a debt for a medical mistake does not seem fair. However, it happens quite often. According to research conducted in 2013, around 1.7 million Americans regularly filed for bankruptcy because they could not pay their medical bills.
- Statistics compiled for adults, ages 19 to 64, show these projections:
- Around 56 million people will have difficulties paying their medical bills.
- Over 35 million people will be contacted by collection agencies about their medical bills.
- More than 15 million people will have to drain their savings in order to pay for their medical costs.
- Over 11 million people will use their credit cards to pay for hospital costs.
Nearly 10 million people will not be able to pay for such basic necessities as food and rent because of their medical expenses.
Healthcare research revealed that around 26% people in the US experience financial issues because of health costs. Of that amount, 42% spent most of the savings on medical bills while 23% took on more credit card debt. Almost 20% took out a loan and 7% declared bankruptcy.
Although the Affordable Care Act has lowered the number of uninsured people, high-deductible policies that are require higher out-of-pocket costs quickly increase the debt. A family of four with a preferred provider plan currently owes about $25,000 in healthcare costs – a figure that is triple of what it was in 2001. Some of the increases are traced to increased insurance rates – meant to circumvent the added claims for medical mistakes.
In cases where negligence may be proven, a medical malpractice claim may be possible. If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice, you need to talk to a malpractice lawyer who practices in your state. In instances where filing legal action is not possible, you can file for bankruptcy protection. Both Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 of the US Bankruptcy Code cite credit card debt and medical debt to be unsecured, or eligible for dismissal.