Financial hardship is nothing new for many Americans living in Mississippi and elsewhere during the post-recession economy, but one threat to home finances has emerged as a leading cause of individuals filing for bankruptcy. An investigation by NerdWallet Health has predicted 1.7 million bankrupt households for 2013 due to medical debt. This affects more than the financial health of Mississippi households. It may also lead to delayed treatments. Even employed residents of MS with full insurance coverage may not be safe from the danger of unexpected illness and overwhelming medical expenses.

The number of personal bankruptcy cases arising due to unpaid medical bills is dwarfed by an estimated 56 million people who will experience hardship from medical expenses. This includes about 10 million insured adults. The vice president of NerdWallet Health puts the blame on high-deductible plans that can drain up to $10,000 from a family’s annual budget in case of serious illness.

Another threat discussed by the vice president is that people will forgo or delay use of prescribed medicines in an effort to make bills more manageable. This group of an estimated 25 million people are at risk for even greater medical debt accruing from the use of ambulances and emergency rooms. Data for the research came from the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Census, federal court records and a privately managed foundation.

Unpaid bills can threaten everything a household has worked to build, including the family home and other assets. In order to stop foreclosure, prevent legal action by creditors and stop repossession of essential assets, individuals may choose to discuss their financial problems with a professional. It may be possible to eliminate debt or create manageable payment plans while also protecting assets. An experienced attorney may be able to help assess the situation and offer the best solutions.

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