Can I Include My Spouse’s Medical Debt in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

medical bills

Due to billing errors and providers with questionable pricing regulations, medical debt has now risen to the top of the list of reasons why Americans file for bankruptcy. In fact, of all of the money tied up in debt collections, medical debt exceeds all other types of debt. It may be hard to believe that Americans have more outstanding medical bills than student loan bills, but the data shows it to be true.

What is a person to do when they fall ill and either don’t have insurance or need care that falls outside of their current benefits plan? The choice is simple when faced with life or death – it’s the aftermath that’s the problem.

How Can I Get Out of Medical Debt?

Firstly, it’s true that the medical billing system in the United States is filled with mistakes and flaws. Your first move should be to keep a close eye on all of your medical bills or insurance paperwork as they start arriving in the mail. If you feel there are inaccuracies,  talk to your insurance provider on the phone. Some studies suggest that between 50-80% of health insurance claims contain erroneous information or data.

Often, your medical insurance provider will be able to spot mistakes made by doctors’ offices, clearing up the problem quickly. However, there are times when people legitimately find themselves up to their eyeballs in authentic medical bills. When this happens, it is possible to negotiate with many providers to set up a payment plan that you can afford.

I Can’t Even Afford a Payment Plan for My Medical Bills!

If you’ve scoured your medical bills for errors and come to the ultimate conclusion that you ARE responsible for more than you can handle, you should know that, unlike student loans, medical debt is dischargeable in a bankruptcy.

Filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Jersey will enable you to absolve yourself from the mountain of medical bills that you are currently buried under. At the very least, you will be able to discharge a portion of your medical debt.

Some debtors are deep in medical debt due to a spouse or child’s medical condition. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, not only is it recommended, but it is required to include the medical debts of your spouse and/or children on your bankruptcy paperwork. You will likely be able to discharge most (if not all) of your spouse and/or child’s medical debt.

The catch, however, is that even though you will not be liable for their debts, your spouse will still be liable if the debts were hers. Often, medical creditors don’t make a distinction, though, and your entire family’s medical debt may be erased. This is especially true if the debt belongs to your minor child, because you are financially responsible for the medical expenses related to your own children.

Consulting a bankruptcy attorney is extremely important if you are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to discharge your medical debt. It is possible to be denied a discharge of debts due to faulty paperwork if you file on your own.


Image credit: Urban Bohemian

2 Responses to Can I Include My Spouse’s Medical Debt in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

  1. Pingback: Don’t Let Medical Debt Push You into Bankruptcy: Know Your Rights | Veitengruber Law

  2. Pingback: I Can’t Afford My Car Payment! | Veitengruber Law

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