Law Offices of W. George Senft


What Do I Do When I Can’t Pay My Medical Bills?

Bankruptcy cases involving people who went on luxurious spending sprees are far less common than you may think. Most people file bankruptcy due to changes in their financial circumstances, such as a job loss. Divorce is another common reason.

Unfortunately, many people are thrown into debt when their health takes a turn for the worse. Even with good medical insurance, the total owed can be beyond what’s reasonable to ever pay back. In these situations, bankruptcy can offer the relief that you need. Therefore, allowing you to focus on getting healthy without debt hanging over your head.

What are my Options?

If your medical bills have gotten out of control, there are a few steps you’ll need to take. Before you begin falling too far behind on payments, contact your medical creditors to let them know you’re struggling. This is no time to worry about what they may think.  They spend their days working with people to make plans for tackling medical debt, so your story will not shock them.

There may be programs or funding in place that can help. Almost all medical creditors will set up a payment plan for you, and some even have benevolence funds set aside to help. This could forgive all or part of your debt. It’s time to be bold and ask for the help you need.

Considering Bankruptcy

If you’ve negotiated and done everything you can, but your creditors are unable to create a payment plan or options that work for you, it may be time to consider bankruptcy. Your overall situation and any other debts you have will help us to decide which chapter will be most beneficial to you. We’ll first conduct the means test, which will tell us if you’re eligible for a Chapter 7. This type of bankruptcy discharges unsecured debts regardless of the total amount owed. If you have a decent income, but still can’t keep up with all of your debts, a Chapter 13 may be a better option for you. This will reconfigure your debts and set new monthly payments based on your ability to pay. After a three- to five-year repayment period, unsecured debts, including medical bills, are discharged. Depending on your disposable income during the repayment period, you could end up paying nothing toward medical bills. Most Chapter 13 filers end up paying only a fraction of what they originally owed.

Moving Forward

Dealing with an illness or injury is stressful enough, without the stress of debt and dealing with creditors on top of it all. If your medical debt has been weighing on you, let’s talk about how bankruptcy may be able to help. You may be able to put your medical bills behind you, which allows you the freedom to focus on health and recovery.