Overwhelming medical bills are causing people in Texas and nationwide to burn through their retirement savings and rack up massive debts, according to a new report by TD Ameritrade. In fact, the financial services firm found that 137 million Americans have faced financial hardship from medical expenses in the past 12 months.
The report found that medical debt is the number one reason Americans of all ages contemplate cashing in their retirement accounts. In addition, another recent study found that over 66% of all personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S. are linked to high medical bills. Many of these situations occur when people lose their jobs and have trouble keeping up their COBRA payments, causing them to also lose their health insurance. As a result, when a medical emergency strikes, they are on the hook for staggering amounts of money.
According to health care advocates, it may be possible to avoid such situations by shopping around for the best price before undergoing certain medical procedures. For example, heart surgery can cost as much as $500,000 at some hospitals and as little as $44,000 at others, and the price difference doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of care. People can also attempt to negotiate the price of certain treatments with hospitals in advance or arrange an installment plan to pay for a procedure over time. Finally, in some areas, there are charitable organizations that can help people pay for their medical care.
Texas residents who are having difficulty paying their medical bills might be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which may end creditor harassment, prevent foreclosure or repossession and offer a fresh financial start. Individuals may be able to learn more about their legal options by contacting a bankruptcy attorney for a consultation.