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Medical debt is a significant problem for many people in Ohio and around the country. The issue is not one relegated only to the uninsured, either. Of those struggling with high medical debt, 70 percent were insured at time the debt was incurred, according to some reports.

As much as 50 percent of all debt in collections is medical debt. Many of the people who owe the debt had no prior issues on their credit reports. An unexpected accident or illness may cause significant financial setbacks, and uncontrollable medical debt may result.

The Federal Reserve has found that only 48 percent of American households are in the financial shape to cover even a $400 unexpected emergency expense without borrowing money or selling something in order to pay for it. For those who are insured, high deductibles and required co-payments can add up quickly, with the average annual deductible of workplace health plans running around $1200. Because of an inability to pay for high medical debt, some people sadly forgo needed future treatment, placing their health and lives at a heightened risk.

People with delinquent medical bills may not only suffer from a lowered credit score. Many of these debts are turned over to third-party collectors. The collectors, in an effort to collect on the debt, often engage in harassing techniques and some may file civil lawsuits against the person who owes it. In the event the collector obtains a judgment, the debtor’s wages may be garnished as the collector seeks to enforce it. People may then be faced with having even less money to meet their needs, potentially sending them into a vicious financial tailspin. Some who need relief from medical debt consider filing for bankruptcy. An attorney can explain the eligibility requirements and the procedure to obtain a discharge.

Source: Main Street, “The Truth About Medical Debt: It’s a Lot Higher Than You Think”, Eric Reed, Jan. 15, 2015