Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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Medical debt and Chapter 7 bankruptcy: Tips for consumers

According to statistics, medical bills are a leading indicator of an individual's likelihood of filing for bankruptcy. Medical debt tends to come on unexpectedly, and then build rapidly. Residents caught in the wake of an unexpected illness or injury are often unable to gain control of the situation, and may need to eventually seek Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The following tips are offered to assist California residents in taking steps to help avoid becoming mired in medical debt.

One of the most important things that a person can do to protect against this type of debt is to understand his or her health insurance coverage. Each and every policy is different, and there are no hard and fast rules as to what procedures will be covered and which may be declined. Knowing the ins and outs of your current coverage can help you make informed decisions about your health care.

In addition, take the time to research your policy's coverage for preventative health. Health insurance should not be used solely as a reactive measure, such as when a person becomes sick or is injured. Health coverage can and should be used to address issues before they reach a critical point, such as weight management or overall physical conditioning.

While some health issues can be prevented, there are always circumstances that will occur regardless of how vigilant an individual in California is about their health and wellness. In these situations, families are often thrown into serious debt problems, which can be virtually impossible from which to recover. When medical debt has reached a critical level, it may be time to consult with an attorney to discuss if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best course of action.

Source: Fox Business, "How to Predict the Size of Your Next Major Medical Bill", Oct. 6, 2015

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