Of those who file for bankruptcy in Illinois and throughout the country, roughly 66.5% do so because of medical bills. Individuals file either because of the medical debt itself or because of a lack of income caused by time spent out of work. This is according to a study that was published in the American Journal of Public Health. It found that the Affordable Care Act has done little to reduce the number of bankruptcies related to medical costs.
In fact, the percentage of people citing medical debt as the reason for bankruptcy actually increased in the three years after the ACA was introduced. This is because the level of care that people needed was not available or too expensive. Furthermore, most Americans don’t have enough money saved up to help them cover the cost of an emergency. A Bankrate survey found that 60% of Americans couldn’t cover an emergency expense of $1,000.
While medical debt was the top cause of bankruptcy, it was not the only common cause. Other reasons cited for seeking protection from creditors included not being able to afford a mortgage or getting a divorce. Living beyond one’s means was the No. 3 cause of bankruptcy, and it was responsible for 44.4% of bankruptcy cases. Providing for family members or friends was another relatively common reason why people could no longer pay their bills.
Someone seeking debt relief may be able to obtain it through bankruptcy. It may be possible to have medical debt, credit card debt and various other balances discharged in a matter of weeks or over a series of monthly payments. In a Chapter 13 case, the filer may be able to keep property like a home or car. An attorney may assist a debtor seeking protection from creditors.