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Old 09-17-2010, 11:33 AM
 
314 posts, read 993,743 times
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For years I've heard, "we're ruined", "they took our home", "wiped out" and other similar things when people spoke of not having health insurance in time of a medical crisis. I'd like facts. Can a hospital take someone's home and wipe out their bank account? I can understand hounding them via phone and through letters for payment, but just how far does the law allow them to go? How deeply can they search into one's financial assets?
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Old 09-17-2010, 11:58 AM
 
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A debt for medical care is no different than any other unsecured debt (think credit card). If someone can't pay their debts, they can file for bankruptcy (Chapter 13 to work out a partial payment plan or Chapter 7 to have the debts discharged if the debtor has no way to pay for them.) Although bankrupty law is federal, each state makes it own determination as to what assets a resident debtor can keep after filing.

The inability to pay hospital bills and/or other health care expenses is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy filings in the country. (As opposed to the general perception that it is people who are living above their means racking up huge credit card bills.)

Last edited by MadManofBethesda; 09-17-2010 at 11:59 AM.. Reason: To correct typo.
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Old 09-17-2010, 12:58 PM
 
144 posts, read 275,536 times
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[quote=
The inability to pay hospital bills and/or other health care expenses is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy filings in the country. (As opposed to the general perception that it is people who are living above their means racking up huge credit card bills.)[/quote]

So true. It's sad that so many honest americans are uninformed about the fact of the healthcare crisis here in the US. Many of those who oppose the healthcare reform effort just do not how serious the problem we're in. The costs of having so many uninsured people resorting to the emergency room services and so many insurance overheads (executive salaries, marketing, etc.) are draining our resources.
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Old 09-17-2010, 01:25 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
19,797 posts, read 36,131,896 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stockproipi View Post
... many honest americans are uninformed about the fact of the healthcare crisis here in the US. Many of those who oppose the healthcare reform effort just do not how serious the problem we're in. ...
And the few who have actually read and studied the currently proposed HC reform plan and quickly pursuing an exit from the USA

No band-aid solutions are acceptable. 'Politicians' are NOT capable of fixing this.

Years of neglect and 'blind-eyes' to profits / wealth of working 'the-system'. Tragic

OP, there is some protection to some assets in a medical (or otherwise) bankruptcy. BUT.... much of your wealth is accessible to the 'vultures' (attorneys). Creditors end up with very little. And yes, a very sad testimonial to a 'developed' nation.

I had thought you were asking about the newly proposed 'Fines' for not carrying Health Ins. These are drafted in such a way to be very burdensome into the future. (you cannot just pay the 'fine', you WILL have much higher LIFETIME premiums in the future AFTER you are caught), the new is very ugly indeed, and is in no way 'reform'. It is all about YOU PAY, or YOU DIE trying.

My Sympathies, (your rollover IRA is pretty safe, 401k is safer (liability shielded as well as bankruptcy))
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Old 09-17-2010, 02:34 PM
 
144 posts, read 275,536 times
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Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
And the few who have actually read and studied the currently proposed HC reform plan and quickly pursuing an exit from the USA
Leaving the USA to go where? A third world country or a developed country with socialized healthcare system? Or are you talking about the moon?
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Old 09-17-2010, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Near a river
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I have read something about a Homestead Act that is supposed to protect up to $300,000 for either your house or total assets, cannot remember which. Either the Homestead Act is automatic, or it's something you have to sign up for. Anyone have any better info on this?
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Old 09-17-2010, 02:36 PM
 
144 posts, read 275,536 times
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Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I have read something about a Homestead Act that is supposed to protect up to $300,000 for either your house or total assets, cannot remember which. Either the Homestead Act is automatic, or it's something you have to sign up for. Anyone have any better info on this?
Yes it does. As long as you're alive. Once you are gone, the government will take your house over and sell it to reclaim their cost.
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Old 09-17-2010, 03:17 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
19,797 posts, read 36,131,896 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stockproipi View Post
Leaving the USA to go where? A third world country or a developed country with socialized healthcare system? Or are you talking about the moon?
I've lived in several counties that have much better HC options than the US (unless you have unlimited $$(i.e. 'insurance'), then US is fine), in fact... few 'developed countries' are worse, tho there are some. I will be looking at 'self-pay' so any country with 'affordable' and accessible HC will do (that will not include the USA in the next decade or 2013)
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Old 09-17-2010, 03:30 PM
 
314 posts, read 993,743 times
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Some great info provided. Thanks!

I, however, worded my questions poorly because I'm still uncertain about some points.

Let's say this: Johnny has no medical insurance and is not old enough (62) for medicare. He is admitted to the hospital via the ER and has major surgery. The bill is $500,000.

Johnny visits the financial department before leaving the hospital and attempts to set up a payment plan for the costs. He's astonished at the amount requested on a monthly basis from him. He insists as a retiree he can't comfortably pay that. *The fact is...Johnny DOES have the full amount of his hospital bill in his bank account. It's the money which has to carry him for THE REST OF HIS LIFE. He has no desire to part with it all at once and wishes to make monthly payments toward his bill.

So, if the hospital is dissatisfied with the amount in monthly payments Johnny wishes to make, can they obtain his banking info and seize the entire amount? And...can they take his house? *Johnny isn't planning to file bankruptsy.*
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Old 09-17-2010, 04:55 PM
 
Location: Near a river
16,045 posts, read 17,855,343 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Debb J View Post
Some great info provided. Thanks!

I, however, worded my questions poorly because I'm still uncertain about some points.

Let's say this: Johnny has no medical insurance and is not old enough (62) for medicare. He is admitted to the hospital via the ER and has major surgery. The bill is $500,000.

Johnny visits the financial department before leaving the hospital and attempts to set up a payment plan for the costs. He's astonished at the amount requested on a monthly basis from him. He insists as a retiree he can't comfortably pay that. *The fact is...Johnny DOES have the full amount of his hospital bill in his bank account. It's the money which has to carry him for THE REST OF HIS LIFE. He has no desire to part with it all at once and wishes to make monthly payments toward his bill.

So, if the hospital is dissatisfied with the amount in monthly payments Johnny wishes to make, can they obtain his banking info and seize the entire amount? And...can they take his house? *Johnny isn't planning to file bankruptsy.*
I may be wrong again, but as long as someone is faithfully and evenly paying something toward the bill every month, that is what the law requires. For ex, if you have a $500 electric bill for some reason, you just keep paying $50 or whatever a month. How can a credit company come after you for that?

If I am wrong, what can the hospital legally do to force someone to pay all of their bill all at once? This would throw tens of thousands of seniors into the streets.

PS: While he is alive, the Homestead Act (I think) protects house (and maybe other assets) up to $300K. Someone said this figure is actually $500K. But you need to get the real facts.
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