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The potential impact of medical debt on Wisconsin patients

Basically, people will do anything for good health. The cost of health care, however, nowadays is something that many patients, including those in Wisconsin, may not be able to afford. For this reason, medical lines of credit and credit cards are sometimes introduced to patients which may help cover the cost of medical expenses. Experts, however, have noted that medical credit cards may cause a person to have financial difficulties and medical debt in the long run.

Unfortunately, a 78-year old woman had to learn this lesson the hard way. She was one of the patients who acquired medical lines of credit and credit cards to cover medical costs. This form of payment may have seemed to be the perfect solution to afford treatment costs and the loan guaranteed that the dentist would be paid in full. For a woman relying on her Social Security check, however, the total amount of the loan proved extremely costly. The resulting minimum monthly dental bill was $214 which represented a third of the woman's Social Security check. Additionally, if the woman missed the payment, she faced a potential$50 penalty.

According to sources, many medical credit cards charge no interest for a promotional period which may range from six to eighteen months. This offer seems attractive for many people who cannot afford a certain medical treatment or are uninsured. If the medical debt is not paid in full at the end of the deadline, however, the interest rate may increase to 25 to 30 percent. Additional fees and charges may also then apply.

There is, however, one possible solution to the financial difficulties that a person with medical debt may be experiencing. Medical debt, which is a form of unsecured debt, may be discharged through personal bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a form of debt relief that may allow a patient to resolve the medical debt either through Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, depending on qualifications and circumstances. A trained bankruptcy attorney can advise a party facing overwhelming medical, or other, debt of options that best meet that party's individual circumstances and concerns.

Source: The New York Times, "Patients Mired in Costly Credit From Doctors," Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Oct. 13, 2013

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