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Personal bankruptcy one option for medical debt

Even the healthiest people in Louisiana can fall victim to serious accidents or unforeseen health crises that require medical care and intervention. Medical technology has certainly advanced rapidly over the past decades, but unfortunately, it often appears as if medical costs have far outpaced any type of advancement in procedures in treatments. For same, paying off bills for even minor procedures and treatments can be a Herculean task with only one viable option -- personal bankruptcy.

The problem with overwhelmingly large medical bills is not a problem solely dealt with by the uninsured. Indeed, one study revealed that, since 2013, a third of people in America who have private medical insurance were slapped with an unexpected bill because their insurance paid considerably less than they were expecting. Perhaps what is even more worrisome is some experts predict that these surprise medical expenses will continue to grow.

So what is fueling this drastic increase in medical debt? As a cost-saving mechanism, many insurance companies are slashing the lists of doctors and hospitals that policyholders may use. When patients receive treatment in the hospital and are attended to by any number of professionals, such as an anesthesiologist whom they only meet briefly, it can be difficult to discern exactly who is in network. Some policyholders have even been slammed with bills for out-of-network radiologists who interpreted scan results but never actually met the patient.

Medical debt is an enormous financial burden for many Louisiana families, and the problem is only getting bigger. Virtually no one deserves to be unfairly slammed with debt simply for becoming ill, especially when paying off that debt can be impossible. While personal bankruptcy tends to be framed in a negative or unfortunate light, it is often one of the most effective tools to use for those face insurmountable piles of debt.

Source: Market Watch, "How to handle surprise medical bills", Elizabeth O'Brien, Dec. 24, 2015

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