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Medical debt is a widespread crisis in America

One of the central needs in life aside from food and shelter is healthcare. However, it can also be one of the most expensive aspects of your lifetime. Despite your health insurance coverage, you might still end up with bills you can’t pay.

Healthcare expenses have created an enormous debt for Americans. So much debt, in fact, that today a webinar hosted by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions pleaded to forgive nearly $20 million in unpaid medical bills. That amount is nowhere near the national total, however.

The price of healthcare is so high that many people avoid going to a clinic when they need to; splitting headaches or a patch of abnormal skin may not be worth the five minutes a doctor would spend with you, whether they could or couldn’t treat the issue. Those who suffer medical debt can become more sick, more stressed and more in debt as time goes on.

Not only does medical debt prevent people from scheduling appointments, but it makes access to prescription medication difficult. Patients with a chronic condition can’t simply choose to skip medicine to save money. In many cases, pharmaceuticals are the only path to living a somewhat regular life. The need for a constant supply of medication can generate costs too quickly to pay.

Medical debt can extend to multiple areas of your life that has nothing to do with your health because it also affects credit history. Through no fault of your own, your sickness can prevent you from receiving approval for an apartment or car loan, for example. You might have to pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage, which only makes your debt worse.

Luckily, filing for bankruptcy is an option for those with high medical debt. You might be able to file in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 depending on your situation. Although declaring bankruptcy can put another slight ding in your credit score, it can more than make up for it in debt relief.

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