When the health crisis hit last spring and Indiana shut down, some local healthcare providers decided to take action to help their fellow Hoosiers manage financially crippling medical debt. Dr.’s Jeffrey and Leigh Meltzer, who have overseen thousands of deliveries of newborns in central Indiana during their careers as OBGYN’s, started up the Indiana Health Fund in March of this year.
The purpose of this charitable organization is help people offset the high cost of medical bills that, over time, eat into living expenses and savings, forcing families to make hard choices between putting food on the table or paying off debt. The couple is also using their knowledge of the medical and healthcare industries to help struggling families meet their healthcare needs without incurring additional medical debt.
The true cost of medical debt
While such philanthropic efforts are admirable and will hopefully inspire more private support services to help in communities across the country, the sad truth is that medical debt is creating poverty and need in America at an alarming rate. With millions of people having lost their jobs and health insurance this year, even among employed Americans almost a third have some form of medical debt. And of those, more than half have defaulted on those debts.
When people do resort to bankruptcy, many cite medical bills or income loss from illness or taking care of a loved one as their primary reasons for filing. And often, medical bankruptcy filings are because of the illness of a child. With the cost of medical care going up 4.6% since 2018, rising premiums, copays or changes in coverage are leaving many people drowning in debt.
Bankruptcy options for medical debt
Fortunately, there are legal options that will allow individuals to either discharge their medical debt or manage it over time. Finding compassionate and knowledgeable counsel to assist you in assessing your current financial situation can help you to chart a path to financial freedom.
Whether it is negotiating with medical providers to manage payments, finding protection from aggressive debt collectors, or seeking private foundations like the Meltzers’ to offset costs, these first steps are vitally important in gaining control over ballooning interest rates. Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings may provide more permanent relief that will allow the individual or family to chart a financial future that allows them to rebuild their credit over time.