Patients and Hospitals Struggle Through This Recession
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Patients and Hospitals Struggle in This Recession

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Medical costs can severely affect any budget.

In fact, medical bills are a major reason why people fall into large amounts of debt.

When you or a loved one is hurt or injured, you're supposed focus on recovery, not worry about bills.

But hospitals and HMOs expect all costs owed by the patient to be covered, and their pursuit of these debts could result in those who cannot pay filing for bankruptcy.

The health-care industry has to deal with the same economic struggles as any other. Many hospitals receive significant income from investments, which declined significantly alongside the stock market.

According to an American Hospital Association Survey, 43% of hospitals have stated that they expect to lose money during the first fiscal quarter this year. That is up 26% from just one year previous.

Twenty-two percent of hospitals surveyed indicated that they reduced their health-care services since September, including outpatient clinics, behavioral health programs and post-discharge home care.

Approximately 90% of hospitals have cut expenses and a little under half have cut staff.

Struggling Hospitals & Us

For individuals seeking medical help, this economic impact is likely to result in more vigilant billing practices.

No longer can many hospitals afford to pass on co-payments and deductibles, meaning individuals may have to prepare for high out-of-pocket expenses.

Because health-care facilities require capital to continue offering their services, they will attempt to collect from patients.

Many financial assistance options are available for individuals needing health-care, but even federal funding programs such as COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) require minimum payments that can be a struggle to cover.

During times of illness, financial issues may not be a priority. Nevertheless, unpaid medical bills can interfere with any efforts to continue on with the rest of your life during or after health problems.

The Bankruptcy Option

Rather than face these creditors alone as they vigorously pursue the money, individuals may consider filing bankruptcy.

Although filing for bankruptcy does leave an imprint on your credit score, in times where it becomes increasingly difficult to collect the money necessary to pay off debts, bankruptcy can be a rational choice for some people.

Under the laws governing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for instance, creditors must stop asking for money under the bankruptcy automatic stay, in most cases.

Even phone calls asking for money are not allowed as the courts grant individuals the time to file papers outlining their financial situation, so that a rational course of action to pay off debts can be devised.

Just as doctors often benefit from taking the time to perform multiple tests in order to confirm the best course of action for a medical condition, so too can individuals suffering from the stress of medical bills benefit from taking the time to organize their assets. Filing bankruptcy could offer this time.

Medical bills are oftentimes unforeseeable, but they are similarly unavoidable. Many hospitals are struggling alongside their patients to make ends meet during this recession, which means that individuals must be prepared with an answer for the high costs resultant from health-care.

In debt thanks to high medical bills? Consider talking to a bankruptcy lawyer today--for free:



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