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Latinos particularly at risk for medical bankruptcy

Most Americans will struggle at some point to pay medical bills, for one reason or another. As the costs of medical care rise and health insurance policies trim back benefits, the problem is likely only to grow bigger. The problem, of course, affects everybody, but it especially affects Latinos. According to NerdWallet Health, nearly one in four Latinos under the age of 65 will have trouble paying medical bills this year, and Latinos are 14 percent more likely than the average American and 24 percent more likely than Caucasian Americans to have troubles paying medical bills.

In terms of insurance, recent research by The Commonwelath Fund has found that Latinos are more likely that any other racial group in America to lack health insurance. In 2013, over half of Latinos will be uninsured at some point during the year. Not having health insurance is obviously a risk factor for accumulating medical debt. 

It’s somewhat of a vicious cycle. When people don’t have the resources to pay for medical care, they tend to go without it, cut back on it, or not seek it out to the extent they need to. This can lead to health problems in the future, delaying medical issues until later, when costs may be even greater. Not surprisingly, health care will be delivered eventually, at which point large bills will build up.

Medical debt is among the most common reason for bankruptcy, and this is especially true among Latinos, who have been filing more and more personal bankruptcies by the year since 2006.

Crippling medical debt can affect anybody. For those who face this problem, it is important to understand all the options available. While bankruptcy may not be a particularly inviting prospect from the perspective of one’s credit score, it is sometimes the option that makes the most financial sense. It helps to work with an experienced attorney in coming to this decision, though, as well as in working through bankruptcy itself. 

Source: Fox News Latino, “NerdWallet: Medical Bankrutpcy Is On The Rise, One In Four Latinos Struggle To Pay Bills,” Napala Pratini, August 15, 2013. 

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