Increasing bankruptcies due to medical bills

An increasing number of Arizona residents who file for bankruptcy may be doing so due to medical expenses, not home loans or credit card debt. This is especially true for individuals who lack medical insurance. When someone is in poor health and they do not have health insurance to mitigate the costs of doctors' visits, tests and medications, medical expenses can pile up quickly. Individuals who seek treatment may also pay for treatments with credit cards, putting them further in debt.

This is especially true of Latinos living in the United States. According to NerdWallet Health, it is estimated that one in four Latinos under the age of 65 will have trouble keeping up with medical costs. This is in part due to the fact that as of 2012, less than half of this ethnic group were fully insured based on data from the Commonwealth Fund. Latinos are also 14 percent more likely than the average American to struggle to pay for medical expenses.

Lack of ability to pay for medical bills may also be tied to an increase in Latinos filing for bankruptcy. The number of bankruptcies for this group rose by 50 percent between 2006 and 2010. It is estimated that 330,000 Latino households will file for bankruptcy in 2013 and just over 188,000 are expected to be related to medical bills.

When someone is dealing with financial hardship, bankruptcy does give them the option of eliminating most types of unsecured debt. This can enable people to regain control of their finances. A lawyer may explain what debts are eliminated by bankruptcy and the process involved in doing so.

Source: FOX News Latino, "NerdWallet: Medical Bankruptcy Is On The Rise, One In Four Latinos Struggle To Pay Bills", Napala Pratini, August 15, 2013

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