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Is medical debt hurting residents of Washington?

It is most likely no secret that many families are finding it difficult to make ends meet. The last recession and housing market collapse, along with a downturn in the job market, has left many people struggling to pay their mortgages or rent, not to mention other essential expenses. Now, another type of financial pressure has been reported to have grown: medical debt. Families in Washington may also be finding that their own medical obligations have added to their monetary demands.

Recently, a consumer counseling agency has compiled data that reveals that approximately one-third of American families are finding themselves with bills from their health care costs. While this may not be surprising to some, the fact is that many of those with overdue medical accounts are not the ones without health insurance. However, for possibly numerous reasons, those who do have coverage are finding themselves unable to keep up with their bills.

One reason that this is a concern is that those who are behind in one area will frequently get behind in other aspects as well. For example, the study showed that people will often use credit accounts to pay for medical expenses. This in turn can lead to a heavier debt load because of the interest charged by the banks. In other situations, consumers may elect to pay health care expenses with the funds needed to pay mortgages, or they will turn to retirement savings. Both solutions, in the end, can lead to greater debt and a worsening financial future.

The agency did suggest that one way to avoid medical debt is to take precautions to avoid illness and see physicians for preventative care. However, even the best practices and planning will not always prevent misfortunes. Washington families who find that they are struggling to manage their possibly overwhelming debt load, no matter the sources, can seek to educate themselves concerning what options may be available to them. It could be possible to find a fresh financial future along with relief from crippling debt in filing for a personal bankruptcy.

Source: nbc12.com, "On Your Side Alert: New Study on Medical Debt", Gray Hall, April 4, 2014

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