Readers in Mississippi who are struggling to pay down debts might turn to bankruptcy protection for help. Increasingly, people are filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy due to medical debts. According to a study by academic researchers, 66.5% of bankruptcy filings occurred for medical reasons. The filers either could not afford to pay high medical bills, or they missed work for medical issues. Approximately 530,000 families file for bankruptcy annually because of medical expenses, illness or injury, according to the research.

There were several other common reasons for bankruptcy filings cited by the study. Foreclosures and unaffordable mortgages were factors in 45% of filings. Living beyond one’s means or spending excessively were factors in 44.4% of filings. Helping relatives or friends contributed to bankruptcy in 28.4% of the instances, student loan debt was a factor in 25.4% of the cases and separation or divorce contributed to 24.4% of the filings.

The percentage of filers who said medical issues contributed to their bankruptcy actually increased following the passage of the Affordable Care Act from 65.5% to 67.5%. One of the co-authors of the research said the reason for the lack of improvement was insufficient health care insurance coverage.

There are as many reasons for filing for bankruptcy as there are those who file for it. People in Mississippi who have debts they cannot repay might want to schedule a consultation with an attorney. A lawyer with experience practicing bankruptcy law might be able to help by examining a client’s financial situation and suggesting options to reduce or eliminate outstanding debts. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing may get rid of the person’s debts and still allow him or her to keep important assets. A Chapter 13 filing may result in the restructuring of debts, so a person can pay them down over time.

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