Overwhelming debt can make life extremely difficult for many families in Illinois. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest contributors to insolvency is medical debt. Almost half of the respondents to a 2017 Federal Reserve survey noted that they had received at least one medical bill in the past year that they could not pay.
While many Americans are insured or have high incomes, even those healthy paychecks can pale next to the costs of some treatments. In addition, many insurance plans may provide limited coverage for key types of treatments, including expensive yet necessary prescription medications. However, some people dealing with high hospital bills may be able to request financial help or charity care. The American Hospital Association said that $38 billion in charity care was provided by U.S. hospitals in 2016. Each hospital has its own eligibility guidelines for charity care.
However, it can be particularly important to ask hospitals for assistance early on in the process before the medical bills turn into extensive medical debt. Once medical bills have been charged to a credit card or turned over to a debt collector, it can be difficult or impossible to negotiate the original amount of the bill. While hospitals across the country offer charity care, only 42 percent of them notify patients before sending an unpaid bill to collections.
People who are seeking an escape from medical debt may consider personal bankruptcy. An attorney can help a debtor file for bankruptcy and put a stop to foreclosures, repossessions and collection calls.