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Medical bills drive Georgia residents to bankruptcy

Many of our Atlanta blog readers assume that, if they have health insurance coverage, they will not incur significant medical debt if they fall ill or become injured. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Even if you have health insurance, you will probably still find yourself paying high out-of-pocket costs for co-pays, deductibles, medications and other expenses that are not covered by your insurance.

As such, it is not terribly surprising that medical debt is the driving force behind many Georgia bankruptcy filings. The statistics vary - one study found that medical bills contribute to more than 60 percent of bankruptcy, while another placed that number at about 20 percent. What is clear, however, is that Americans are unable to pay their medical bills, and it is having a negative effect on their finances.

According to a 2007 survey, 41 percent of working-age Americans are either paying off medical debt or having trouble doing so. That number, which equals about 72 million people, was a 7 percent increase from 2005, and it is likely even higher now following the economic recession.

Unsurprisingly, medical debt problems are most likely to afflict the uninsured. In one survey, 60 percent of uninsured adults between the ages of 19 and 64 said that they had accrued medical debt that year.

However, medical debt it is a issue that affects people of all income levels. More than 75 percent of the bankruptcy filers in yet another study had middle-class incomes and were insured at the start of the illness or injury that would ultimately cause them to file for bankruptcy.

Source: KUNC, "Patients Go Bankruptcy As Medical Costs Soar," Erika Gonzalez, May 21, 2012