July 9, 2012
By John Clark
An 89-year-old veteran of World War II has reportedly had to file for bankruptcy to shed a staggering amount of medical debt created by his late wife's serious health issues, according to a recent report from CBS News.
Warren Bodeker's only income is a $981 check he receives every month from the Social Security Administration, but he owes more than $100,000 in unpaid medical bills for cancer treatment his wife received from 2006 to 2011.
In 2006, Bodeker's wife was diagnosed with cancer and only given six months to live. She defied her doctor's expectations by surviving for five more years, but cost her and her husband a small fortune in health care bills.
To make matters worse, Bodeker was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to miss a recent bankruptcy hearing because he was being treated for a painful kidney stone.
A large public outcry has developed in Bodeker's home state of Montana. The bankruptcy court there has ruled that he must move out of his home so it can be sold at auction in order to repay some of the debts he owes.
Bankruptcy courts, however, don't usually force the sale of a home without a good reason. In this case, the bankruptcy court believes that, by selling the house, it will allow Bodeker repay his debts and still afford another home.
Sources estimate that his home is worth roughly $150,000, although Bodeker claims it's worth nearly $300,000. A trustee in the case plans to sell the home for roughly $155,000, which would allow Bodeker to repay his debts and still have some cash to help find a new home.
Local residents in Plains, Montana, however, don't believe the sale will be worth the court's trouble, and have started a grassroots campaign to try to save Bodeker's home.
And despite his efforts to help Bodeker repay his debts while still keeping some of the value of the home, the trustee assigned to the sale has received death threats and other harassment from local residents.
Bankruptcy cases are rarely this emotional and painful, but this episode shows just how painful medical debt can be, especially for senior citizens living on fixed incomes.
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