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Heavy medical debt can take away everything

If you get sick or seriously injured, you might have to prepare for hefty bills. Your health insurance may require you to pay a high deductible or refuse to cover specific procedures or treatments — if you have insurance at all. Every year, through no fault of their own, thousands of people in eastern Tennessee end up with more medical debt than they can afford.

Medical bills are among the leading causes of debt in the United States. Exact numbers are uncertain, but studies indicate that 16 to 28 percent of American adults carry medical debt. Trying to keep up on the monthly payments is more than many households in the Knoxville area can afford. In some cases, they can lose everything.

Medical bills may exacerbate homelessness

A new study suggests that medical debt keeps people experiencing homelessness on the streets for years longer than they would be otherwise. The study is based on a survey of homeless adults in Washington state about their health and financial situation. They found that, on average, those with unpaid medical bills experienced homelessness 22 months longer than others who did not have that problem. And people of color who reported being unable to pay their medical debt experienced homelessness a year longer than their white counterparts who also had unpayable medical bills. In total, 68 percent of those surveyed said they had medical bills, most of which had gone into collections.

Protect your family from medical debt burdens

Receiving medical care should not cause anyone to lose their home. If you have medical bills you cannot afford or are being threatened by debt collectors, bankruptcy may be the best option for you. To find out for sure what you can do to overcome your medical bills, contact a bankruptcy attorney.

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