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Medical debt might be hurting South Carolina seniors

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Access to advanced medical care is essential for most people in South Carolina and, in some situations, can even be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, life-saving care often comes with a hefty price tag. Seniors in particular are especially at risk for incurring significant amounts of medical debt, which can put them into financially compromised positions.

In 2008, only 7 percent of all personal bankruptcy filings were made by people at least 65 years old. That figure has since gone up to 8 percent, and medical debt is likely one of the culprits. People tend to need more health care — both preventative and emergency — as they age, at a time when they tend to be on tighter budgets with fixed incomes.

Although overwhelming medical debt is the largest contributor to bankruptcy filings, medical bills can hit seniors exceptionally hard for a variety of reasons. Wives tend to outlive their husbands, and many of these women are suddenly faced with taking over the family finances for the first time. The 2008 recession also hit this group of people especially hard, and the aftermath is still being felt today.

Avoiding medical care out of fear of medical debt is surprisingly not uncommon. While this practice may push seniors in South Carolina toward poor health outcomes, seeking necessary treatment can also compromise their financial security. Personal bankruptcy is often an effective solution for medical debt that has spiraled out of control — which can happen quickly for those living on fixed incomes — and can provide a more secure financial foundation.

Source: Forbes, “The Reasons More Older Americans Are Filing For Bankruptcy”, Tami Kamin Meyer, Nov. 16, 2017