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Biggest reason Floridians seek bankruptcy relief: medical bills

Medical bills are expected to force 1.7 million Americans in Florida and around the country into personal bankruptcy, according to NerdWallet Health. Health expenses are becoming the biggest cause of personal bankruptcy which is outpacing other reasons, such as unpaid mortgage and credit card bills. According to the NerdWallet health vice president, medical bills can overwhelm a family when a sudden illness happens.

Also, 25 million individuals may hesitate to take their medications to control medical costs. Even individuals with health insurance aren't immune from the rising cost of medical bills. They may still accumulate medical bills that can't pay because of high-deductible insurance plans. NerdWallet's data found that 56 million adults who don't file chapter 7 bankruptcy or chapter 13 will struggle with payments.

NerdWallet, which is a division of a price-comparison website, used data from the federal court system, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Census and the Commonwealth Fund. The Fund is a private foundation that promotes quality, efficiency and access in the healthcare system. NerdWallet also claimed the Affordable Care Act may not completely solve the problem of the rising cost of medical bills.

Many individuals struggling to pay medical bills or any other bills typically pursue personal bankruptcy. Also, they often seek the help of a bankruptcy lawyer. A lawyer may look over a client's finances to figure out which bankruptcy chapter he or she can file for. Chapter 7 eliminates all unsecured credit, but a person can't have any disposable income in order to qualify. Chapter 13 allows a person with disposable income to pay bills over time. A bankruptcy lawyer may file a client's petition and represent them at a creditor's hearing.

Source: NBC News, "Biggest cause of personal bankruptcy: Medical bills", Dan Mangan, June 25, 2013

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