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Medical debt leaves Houston residents in financial turmoil

Many Houston area residents know all too well about the changes in medical insurance coverage recently, not to mention the struggles faced by those that lack the necessary coverage in the first place. The result is high out-of-pocket payments for medical treatment.

Far too many individuals throughout the nation have fallen victim to the desperate economic troubles of the past several years. Not only have people been burdened with high credit card debt, but many have also become weighted with outrageous medical debt as well.

According to sources, in 2005, 22 million individuals were being hunted down by collection agencies due to unpaid medical bills -- this number has increased to 30 million in 2010.

What does this mean? Well, for many who do not have the means to pay their debt, they have been forced into filing bankruptcy. Many families have endured job loss over the last five years. Some individuals have been fortunate to find new employment, but that doesn't get rid of the debt that accumulated while they were out of work.

Even small medical bills are now being sent to collection agencies today; when that occurs, debtor's credit scores are negatively impacted. If an individual receives a "ding" on their credit report, that negative mark can remain for as long as seven years, even if that bill is eventually paid.

The answer for many is seeking relief from bankruptcy protection. Collection agencies can be ruthless. The constant calls from collectors can add more stress to an already difficult situation. Bankruptcy can put an end to harassing phone calls and reestablish financial dignity; allowing individuals to get the fresh start they deserve.

Source: Opposing Views, "Medical Debt: The Silent Financial Killer," March 21, 2012

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