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New Mexico Lawyers Serving New Mexico's Legal Needs Since 1997

The current uncertainty about the future of medical-debt levels

Medical debt is an important topic in the news right now because of the activity in Congress around whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also called the ACA or Obamacare. We talk about medical debt in our blogs because of the impact it has on our clients who talk to us about legal options for dealing with it, including possible bankruptcy.

Possible link between Obamacare and bankruptcy rates

Notably, Consumer Reports just published an article that analyzes the drop in personal bankruptcy filings since Obamacare took effect. From 2010 to 2016, personal bankruptcies nationally dropped by about half: from 1.5 million to around 770,000. Coincidently, or not, depending on your view, this was the stretch of time during which the ACA started to take effect.

According to the article, almost all of the experts consulted felt that the increase in people (20 million) who could get affordable health insurance because of Obamacare's provisions "played a major role in the marked, recent decline" in consumer bankruptcy filings. In addition to insurance availability and affordability, the law's requirements impacting all policies that pre-existing conditions be covered as well as that children be allowed to stay on their parents policies until age 26 took effect during that time frame.

Consumer Reports also cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC for its annual survey that asks U.S. households if they have had problems with medical debt in the past year. In 2016, 16.2 said yes, down from 21.3 percent in 2011.

Get legal advice about medical debt

While the national debate about Obamacare and current efforts by some in Congress to repeal it continues, you may still struggle with the impact of medical debt. You may owe money directly to medical providers because of high deductibles or even lack of insurance at all, or your credit cards may be maxed out because you had to use them to pay medical bills or health insurance premiums.

It is important to discuss your options with a lawyer who can help analyze whether bankruptcy may be a good choice or if other legal options should be considered. For example, it may be possible to negotiate a reduction in the amount due with a medical provider or at least a reasonable payment plan. Talk to a legal professional about what steps to take in your situation and how he or she can help.

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