It’s no secret that America has a serious problem with medical debt. As a Memphis bankruptcy lawyer, I see the heavy toll an unexpected medical emergency can take on families.

As individuals, we spend more on health care than any other developed country—about $17 for every $100 we spend, on average, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Many of those bills arrive without notice. In a recent article for CNBC, Sharon Epperson and Lorie Konish write that “about 137.1 million adults have been hit with medical financial hardship in the past year.”

Many Americans turn to credit cards to settle their medical debt. A recent survey from found that roughly one-third of cardholders have debt from medical bills.

Epperson and Konish explain that the rising medical debt has prevented many Americans from securing a mortgage, more so than other forms of debt: “[A survey from Zillow] found that 38% of buyers who owe money for health-care expenses said they’d been turned down for a mortgage because of medical debt. That was a significantly higher rejection rate than for buyers with student loans, at 28%, or credit card debt, 22%.”

Bankruptcy offers lasting relief for medical debt

The aforementioned CNBC article offers suggestions for responding to unexpected medical debt. The first one—negotiating your debts—is solid. By all means, you should always verify that every bill is correct, and that you’ve actually received the services you’re being billed for.

But some of the other ideas, like taking out a personal loan, are the equivalent of putting a band-aid over a much bigger problem. I’ve said before that serious debt, including medical debt, will not resolve itself. Bankruptcy was designed to offer you a way out in these situations.

Filing for bankruptcy because of medical debt is both simpler and more common than you might think. In fact, it’s a top reason people file for bankruptcy.

There are two main types of bankruptcy for individuals—Chapter 7 and Chapter 13—and I can help you with either. Both offer relief with medical bills, but they work differently. Read below to learn which option could be better for you.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Medical Debt

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can eliminate, or completely wipe away, your unsecured debts, including taxes, credit card bills, and medical bills. It’s a very simple way to clear your slate and move forward in your life.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Medical Debt

In contrast, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy combines your debts into affordable monthly payments, typically spread out over three to five years. Many people who file for bankruptcy because of significant medical debt only end up paying for a portion of it.

Get help from a Memphis bankruptcy lawyer

If you are ready to lift the burden of medical debt from your shoulders, our lawyers can help. We’ve stood by thousands of families as they’ve rebuilt financially.

Call us at (901) 327-2100 to discuss your bankruptcy options today.