Medical debt is one of the most common causes of personal bankruptcy in the United States. Although many people mistakenly think that bankruptcy results from irresponsible spending or an unrealistically lavish lifestyle, the truth is that more than 60 percent of personal bankruptcies are rooted in unaffordable medical bills.
Sadly, many families – even those with insurance coverage – are just one serious illness away from financial crises. Medical care is supremely expensive, and insurance rarely covers the whole cost.
A recently passed New Jersey law aims to reduce state residents’ out-of-pocket medical expenses by guaranteeing insurance coverage for certain medical treatments.
First, the law requires insurance companies to provide the same coverage for orally-administered cancer medications as they do for intravenous drugs. Orally-administered drugs often cause fewer side effects, but are more expensive. Insurers had been passing that increased cost on to patients.
Second, the law requires insurance companies to cover treatment for sickle cell anemia, including bone marrow transplants. Sickle cell anemia has long been considered to be a “preexisting condition,” and therefore only received limited insurance coverage.
Medical Debt Can be Discharged in Bankruptcy
Hopefully, this law will help to reduce medical debt in New Jersey. However, it is only one factor in a much larger problem.
Individuals who are burdened by unmanageable medical bills do have the option of discharging those debts in bankruptcy. There are a number of different options available in order to accommodate each person’s unique financial needs.
If you are being hounded by debt collectors, don’t despair. Contact a New Jersey bankruptcy attorney who can help you understand your options.
Source: The Record, “New Health Bills Help Jersey Wallets,” Barbara Williams, Jan. 23, 2012.