Friday, November 30, 2012

Chapter 7: Protection From Bankruptcy Medical Bills

Medical bills are the most common reason for people seeking bankruptcy. However, seeking protection from Bankruptcy medical bills is possible because hospital bills are considered as unsecured debt. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is perfect in the sense that it is the quickest and the debtor can walk away with just a few nicks and cuts, particularly some properties that are not covered by exemption and your overall credit score, which may impact your ability to secure loans in the future.

Bankruptcy medical bills could be the best thing that you can do to restart your financial future with a clean slate. There's a certain stigma to declaring bankruptcy but it's actually a very personal matter. Your privacy is protected and you can still move forward with your life as opposed to the misconception that you walk away only with your clothes on. In some cases, you can even keep your car under bankruptcy.

What happens is the court designates a trustee that will inventory your properties, determine which are exempted and sell those which are not. The money raised from the sale will be used to pay your creditors. To know which properties are exempted from Chapter 7 bankruptcy, talk to a lawyer proficient with bankruptcy laws. Some examples of properties covered by exemptions are: your house, tools or equipment you use in your profession, social security, disability or unemployment benefits, or life insurance. There could be some additional exemptions depending on state laws.

After filing bankruptcy, the court orders the creditors to stay away. But the law also allows creditors to prove that they are justified in collecting your debt, the burden of proof however swings to their side. Bankruptcy however will not wipe out all your debts. Any lien you owe prior to the medical emergency stays on records and you are required to settle it in due time.

Filing for bankruptcy medical bills will not automatically exempt you from paying the IRS. There are conditions before the federal tax agency will let you off the hook. Again, consult a bankruptcy lawyer to explain to you all the gradations of law in relation to Chapter 7 bankruptcy medical bills. You might be able to ward off your creditors but you can't get away from the IRS. Federal agents can still swoop in even after bankruptcy and seize your properties but only if they decide that you are trying to run away from your responsibility as a taxpayer.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Consolidating Unpaid Medical Bills

Unpaid medical bills can be a drag. Most of the time, people don't save up for a medical emergency. Part of the reason for this is the thought that bad things only happen to other people. That sense of invulnerability has driven many into bankruptcy because of unpaid medical bills. If you count yourself among these people, don't worry. There are options. Consolidating medical bills is a great place to start.

Consolidation can have its distinct disadvantages and advantages, just like any option. However, it's important that you weigh the pros and cons of consolidation with other alternatives before you proceed. Generally speaking, you should consider consolidating your unpaid bills if you have exhausted all possibilities for charitable funding, such as asking the hospital for discounts, applying for medical assistance programs from the state, or borrowing money from a rich relative at little or no interest.

There are two methods to consolidate your unpaid bills:

First is through a loan from a bank or financing institution. You must remember that this type of loan is secured so you may need to offer collateral-either your house, car or any other asset. One advantage of this route is that it carries a lesser interest rate compared to unsecured loan. Essentially, you're putting your credit history at stake here. Banks, especially now when times are dire, are not wont to offer consolidation to somebody with a credit score below of 600. Consolidation will restructure your unpaid medical bills so you can make lower monthly amortization payments. However, you will pay more in the long run because the process stretches your principal loan in addition to the interest rate that accrues over a longer payment term.

The second way is to seek the help of a debt management company which can bargain with the credit collection agency trying to recover the hospital's money or the hospital itself to reduce the unpaid medical bills to more manageable levels. One advantage of this method is you don't risk your credit history, although you will have to pay the debt management company for its troubles. The service provider should be able to provide you with details, but you should still insist that they report to the credit bureau that your unpaid medical bills are already paid as agreed or paid in full.

When dealing with unpaid bills, the important thing is to never panic. Talk it out with your family, doctor, friends, or even colleagues and solicit suggestions to find out the best option for your situation. Know that you are not in an island by yourself. Millions of Americans are in the same boat as you. While that thought may offer no consolation, it does means there are avenues to settle unpaid medical bills if you just put a little effort into tracking them down.

Filing Bankruptcy Due to Overwhelming Health Care Debt? Protect Your Future

Once you have decided to file bankruptcy to relieve overwhelming medical debt, you must consider how to best protect yourself in the future. Unless you take measures to prevent this debt from reoccurring, you can once again find yourself in medical debt without the benefit of filing for another bankruptcy. Protecting yourself from future medical debt should be one of your first concerns while filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy. Individuals who have gone through bankruptcy due to devastating medical expenses have learned the hard way that their medical insurance was inadequate, and failed to completely protect them from financial disaster. Most individuals are insured through an employer-provided health care plan. These plans usually cover only a small percentage of the costs incurred after a catastrophic illness or emergency. Some individuals purchase their own health care plans. These individuals are usually self-employed. Individualized health care coverage is very expensive, and these plans have limitations as well. Still, there are options an individual can take to supplement their medical insurance coverage, minimizing their risk, of once again, becoming overwhelmed by medical debt.

Customizing health insurance can be a useful tactic. Individuals who purchase their own medical insurance have the advantage of tailoring their insurance plan to suit their individual needs. They can change their deductibles and coverage to reflect their specific health circumstances. Although employer-provided health care insurance is usually cheaper, there is decreased ability to modify this plan to meet their individual needs. One option some employers offer is to provide a stipend in place of health care insurance. This allows an employee to shop for a more personal insurance plan.

Catastrophic coverage is another option an individual can take to protect themselves from future medical liabilities. Catastrophic medical coverage is less expensive, and can be useful in enhancing an individual's health plan by covering just medical emergencies.

A Health Savings Account (HSA) can be a useful tool in managing medical debt. It is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available to taxpayers who are enrolled in a high deductible health plan. The funds contributed to a HSA are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. These funds roll over and accumulate year to year if not spent. This approach allows the individual to set aside a certain amount every month into their HSA. These funds may be used to pay deductibles and other health care expenses not covered under their health care plan. A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is another tool employers offer to assist employees to manage health care costs, but FSAs have significant disadvantages.

These are a few examples that individuals can consider when optimizing their health care insurance to protect them and their loved ones from medical debt and the threat of bankruptcy. There are many other concerns an individual must consider when planning for a medical emergency, such as the loss of income. Medical emergencies are very unpredictable, and no individual is immune to the possibilities of a medical crisis. It's a good idea to plan ahead for the financial impact of a potential health care crisis.