It is a sad reality that, in New Jersey and throughout the United States, getting sick can mean going broke.
In addition to being one of the most deadly, cancer is also one of the most financially damaging illnesses that can afflict a person.
The Record recently profiled a New Jersey woman who suffered the double whammy of a lung cancer diagnosis and a layoff within six months of each other. She has health insurance, but the medical bills were more than she could afford, even before she lost her job.
Now, she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to continue to pay the health insurance premiums that keep her alive. She is mired in debt and, instead of being able to focus on her recovery, she is desperately trying to prevent her illness from destroying the financial stability she has worked so hard to achieve.
Medical Debt Can Be Discharged in Bankruptcy
Sadly, this woman is not alone in her struggle. More than 60 percent of bankruptcy filings are spurred, at least in part, by unaffordable medical debt.
It used to be medical debt was a problem of the uninsured. This is no longer true. The CFO of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck told The Record that more than half of the hospital’s bad debt comes from insured patients who are no longer able to afford their deductibles and co-pays. Before the recession, insured patients only accounted for about 10 percent.
If you are overwhelmed by medical debt that you are unable to pay, there is a way out. Most medical debt can be discharged in bankruptcy. Although bankruptcy may sound frightening at first, it is often the best way to get out from under the weight of debt and start over fresh.
Source: The Record, “Medical Debt Puts More at Risk,” Lindy Washburn, Jan. 21, 2012.