Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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Medical expenses can lead to unmanageable debt

There are a number of events that can lead to high levels of consumer debt. Experiencing a serious illness or injury is a prime example, and leads many individuals and families in California into scenarios in which unmanageable debt forces difficult decisions. Few families are adequately prepared for the rapid and drastic changes that accompany a serious medical issue, and struggle to find their footing.

The initial timeframe following such an event is often defined by seeking emergency medical treatment and contacting friends and family. Next, the patient and family are tasked with choosing the best possible treatment or rehabilitation options, which can be a stressful process. Finally, families seek to establish a new "normal" as they come to terms with the long term ramifications of the illness or injury. In many cases, the cost of treatment places an additional strain on families, and can destroy an individual's credit, savings and overall financial stability.

The true cost of an accident or illness can be difficult, if not impossible, to accurately tally. Medical bills quickly mount, and then continue to trickle in for many months to come. There is also the loss of income to consider, as well as the time off work that family members often require in order to care for a sick loved one. Addressing these costs can be almost as stressful as the injury or illness itself.

When a California family is in the midst of dealing with a serious medical condition, the financial aspects of the matter are often overlooked. However, finding a way to address unmanageable debt is important, as a family's future financial stability is at risk. For many, the answer lies in personal bankruptcy, which can eliminate many forms of unsecured debt, including medical debt.

Source: Sun Herald, "42.9 million Americans have unpaid medical bills", Josh Boak, Dec. 10, 2014

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