Friday, March 16, 2012

Federal Agency Finds that 1 in 5 Families are Struggling with Medical Debt

A recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows 1 in 5 Americans say their families are having trouble paying their medical bills.  Even more concerning, 1 in 10 Americans say their families are unable to pay anything toward their medical debt.  Such dismal statistics are indicative of a larger problem.  Americans are overburdened with debt and homes that are no longer worth what they once were.  Though the U.S. created more than 200,000 jobs in February, which is a great start, many Chicagoland residents and citizens across the country are still searching for long-term employment.  As our Oak Park and River Forest mortgage foreclosure lawyers know, many families in the Chicago area continue to struggle.  

The CDC’s survey is the first time the government agency has looked at this issue in such a comprehensive way, reports The Washington Post.  The agency surveyed 52,000 people from January through June of last year.  People from low-income backgrounds reportedly struggled the most.  They were three times more likely to have difficulty paying their medical bills.  Additionally, the survey finds that 1 in 4 families are paying their medical bills late, which can damage credit scores and make it more difficult for families to refinance or take out loans in the future.

One important side effect of high medical debt—and of debt in general—is that it jeopardizes the economic security of Chicagoland families.  Oak Park or River Forest homeowners with high medical debt may find it more difficult to keep current on their mortgages.  In this tough economy, many Cook County families have found themselves amidst a perfect storm of an underwater mortgage, high medical or credit card debt, and unemployment or underemployment.  An increasing number of Chicago residents are also burdened with very high educational debt with few prospects of decent employment. 

It’s important to remember that many types of debt are dischargeable through bankruptcy.  Our firm frequently handles Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to consolidate student loans, protect loan co-signers, or eliminate credit card debt.  You may want to consider filing for bankruptcy if you have faced a serious financial setback, such as divorce, an injury or illness resulting in high medical bills, or job loss or a reduction in pay.  Filing for bankruptcy can help repair your credit, which can help you regain control of your finances.  But remember that not all debt is dischargeable through bankruptcy, so it is important to consult with an Oak Park bankruptcy attorney to determine if you are eligible. 

Our Cook County bankruptcy lawyers know that filing for bankruptcy is a difficult decision.  It can be a complicated and seemingly overwhelming process, but your situation may not be as hopeless as it seems.  There are many legal options available to you, and speaking with a qualified professional typically can help alleviate some of your anxiety or concerns.  If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, please consider contacting our Oak Park office for a confidential bankruptcy consultation.

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