Medical debt can have long lasting consequences for those who owe. One of the biggest problems that it can lead to is a damaged credit score if an unpaid debt is referred to collections. It can take years to rebuild a person’s credit profile, and poor credit can hamper an individual’s ability to get a loan.

A large medical debt can make it almost impossible to pay the rent, a car note and other bills. Medical debt tends to become an issue when it accounts for more than 5 percent of an individual’s income. To compensate for this lack of disposable income, some people stopped buying heating oil or cut back on their grocery shopping. Others decided to take second jobs or sell items such as their cars to make ends meet.

An inability to pay for necessities combined with an inability to get credit may lead to emotional distress. It may become emotional difficult to recount a time when an individual dealt with a medical debt. In some cases, the stress of a large medical debt has led to couples getting a divorce. Relationships among family and friends may also become strained as the result of emotional stress related to medical debt.

Medical debt can led to emotional stress and possible credit issues for those struggling to pay it off. However, it may be possible to get with the debt by filing for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy may enable an individual to have some or all medical bills discharged. A bankruptcy attorney may be able to help those who choose to declare bankruptcy by showing them which type of bankruptcy may be best for their unique situation.

Source: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Medical Debt among People with Health Insurance”, Karen Pollitz, Cynthia Cox, Kevin Lucia and Katie , November 23, 2014