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Lower-income Americans suffer medical woes and related bills

Even after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Arizona and across the nation, people have questions about paying medical bills. One woman in Iowa has battled kidney disease for more than three decades in addition to suffering from cancer and a knee injury, resulting in significant financial challenges even with two jobs and health insurance. One hospital bill in 2013 alone reportedly totaled more than $26,000. Although insurance paid some of the expenses, they didn't cover it all.

The woman said that she rarely goes two months without calling the doctor and worries every time she has to be admitted to the hospital. Although her home is almost paid for, she wonders what would happen if her family faced an unexpected bill for their vehicle or major home repair. Her husband's employment provides them with health insurance, but out-of-pocket costs have been set to rise in 2014. Some of her medications are covered, but she still paid about $50 monthly for prescriptions in 2012. For each office visit to the doctor, she pays $50 in co-pays and sometimes waits to go until she knows there is money in her bank account.

Her story is not an isolated case. The 2010 U.S. Census reported that when considering health care costs, 10 million more Americans were classified at the poverty level. Another recent study by a New York non-profit organization showed that over half of all Americans making less than $60,000 annually have debt related to medical costs.

A common reason that people file bankruptcy is because of overwhelming medical bills. A bankruptcy attorney might be able to help clients determine the best course of action for them to follow in regard to Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to help relieve overwhelming debt.

Source: Sioux City Journal, "Medical costs lead to financial worries", Nick Hytrek, December 22, 2013

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