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Medical bills remain a leading cause of bankruptcy

Medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in Florida and throughout the country. Why? In part, because medical care is terribly expensive and medical expenses are something that people rarely plan for - no one can predict a sudden illness or injury.

While having sufficient health care insurance can insulate people from sustaining potentially overwhelming medical debt, this still provides no guaruntee that a person's health care will remain affordable indefinitely. For example, supporters of the Affordable Care Act hoped that insuring all Americans would prevent people from racking up unmanageable medical bills. However, some of the insurance plans for sale under this law have high deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums that could spell trouble for some Floridians.

In fact, even those with fairly low deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums can face financial turmoil should they suffer a chronic disease or debilitating injury.

A recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 24 percent of people with lower deductibles have trouble paying for their medical expenses. About 34 percent of those with higher deductibles have such problems.

While having reasonable insurance coverage as well as some money tucked away in a safe place in case of emergencies can keep people out of debt in some situations, many people in Florida simply cannot weather the financial impact of a serious illness or injury.

Those who face crushing medical debt in Florida do have options, however. There are various types of bankruptcy and credit consolidation that allow consumers to end creditor harassment and get back on their feet. Those who are in need of debt relief should talk to a reputable bankruptcy attorney about their rights.

Source: USA Today, "Medical debt will persist despite health law," Jayne O'Donnell and Paul Overberg, Jan. 15, 2014

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