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What can Ohio residents do about heavy medical debt?

This blog is meant to be a resource for Ohio residents with questions about debt relief. In our law practice, we meet with clients and inform them of their rights and responsibilities, as well as help them make the decision either to file for bankruptcy or seek some other form of debt relief.

Debt problems can arise because of financial inexperience or mistakes, but often people encounter insurmountable debt for reasons beyond their control. In fact, statistics have shown that medical debt is the leading cause for bankruptcy in the United States. Even with the Affordable Care Act on the way, mounting medical bills are a serious problem for many Ohio residents, and they need not feel alone.

Years ago, there was a sense that seeking bankruptcy protection carried a kind of stigma. Not so anymore. Cancer patients and other ill or injured people make up a significant number of bankruptcy filers in the U.S. Clearly, their medical woes are not their fault, and people who have heavy medical debt should be aware of their legal options.

A Commonwealth Fund survey showed that, in 2012, 41 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 64 reported having difficulties in paying off medical debt or were making payments over time. Incidentally, the Commonwealth Fund is a foundation that works to improve healthcare in the U.S.

Sixteen percent of survey responders said they owed at least $8,000 in medical bills, while 29 percent said they were saddled with at least $4,000 in medical debt.

Ohio residents with money woes should know that medical debt is considered unsecured debt, which can be discharged through bankruptcy. To stay abreast of legal happenings and other issues related to debt relief, return to this blog each week. We'll be updating with stories that may interest you.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Your Money | Medical bills taking bigger toll on many," Pamela Yip, May 26, 2013

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