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Medical debt often leads to bankruptcy

When you are healthy, you have two significant advantages over those who are not; you are able to work and earn a living and you have little or no medical expenses. But when you are injured in an accident at work, in a car accident or even a recreational accident, like falling while water skiing or hiking, that all changes.

Suddenly, your injuries may require time to heal or additional surgeries, treatment or therapy. You stop going to work and your paychecks stops. Your employer may not have offered much healthcare insurance or any short-term or long-term disability insurance. 

Even if you have insurance here in Wisconsin, the combination of no income and all of the non-covered co-pays and additional costs that can result from extended medical treatment can lead to a financial meltdown.

In addition, your other bills, your mortgage, car loans and credit cards, all still need to be paid. You may be able to shift priorities for a few months, but eventually you may run out of options.

This is when you may need to speak with a bankruptcy attorney and determine which chapter of the Bankruptcy Code can best help you get out from under the overwhelming debt you now face. And you are not alone, as medical debts have become one of the leading causes of bankruptcies in recent years.

When deciding which type of bankruptcy to file, one consideration is whether you have other assets like a home that you want to keep and should file a Chapter 13, or if you have few assets and simply need to move through the process as quickly as possible.

You also should discuss whether your bills are still accumulating or are all from prior medical treatment, as a bankruptcy only can discharge debts that accrued before the filing date.  

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