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Russell G. Small

Tips for dealing with medical debt

People in Connecticut who are struggling with medical debt are not alone. They are among around 137 million people throughout the country who are in the same situation. Many of them are like one 59-year-old woman who lost her job in 2013 and could not keep up with her COBRA payments.

After becoming uninsured, she had several medical emergencies, including kidney stones and a broken leg. Her bills mounted. Surgery as a result of her broken leg was $60,000, and other invoices arrived with figures exceeding $19,000 and $36,000. She said she did not know how much she owed. She spent the $20,000 she had saved for retirement and said she was considering bankruptcy.

A surgeon and professor at Johns Hopkins has been working to improve the system for patients, including helping them for free in court when they are sued for unpaid bills. He says many people do not realize they can find huge differences in the cost of procedures if they shop around. Furthermore, even in emergency situations, they do not have to sign financial paperwork but instead can write that they did not read or consent to it in the signature line. Some bills are negotiable. People should be cautious about draining their retirement savings to pay off debt.

People may be unaware that if they file for bankruptcy, retirement assets are exempt. With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a person may be able to discharge most debts with a few exceptions, such as tax and student loan debt. An attorney may be able to advise a person regarding the pros and cons of filing for bankruptcy and whether the person qualifies for Chapter 7. Those who are concerned about bills that they cannot pay may contact contact the Law Office of Russell Gary Small PC to find out what their debt relief options are.

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