• High Costs of Getting Well Leaves Millions Worried Sick About Medical Bills

    As we mentioned on Wednesday, staggering health care costs continue to be one of the leading reasons that many Americans file bankruptcy. Because anybody can get sick, medical bills affect people all of age groups.

    The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch reported on September 17, 2012, that a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that health care costs in the last five years of an individual’s life can be much bigger than most people anticipate. The report said average out-of-pocket expenditures for Medicare beneficiaries in the five years prior to death were $38,688 for individuals and $51,030 for couples in which one spouse dies.  Additionally, MarketWatch also reported that more than three-quarters of households spent at least $10,000 in that five-year period, and 11 percent of single and 9 percent of married households spent more than $100,000.

    Just as medical costs affect people in the later years of life, they also create a substantial burden for families who are bringing new ones into the world. Reuters reported on September 18, 2012, that out-of-pocket expenses for labor and delivery increased 74 percent between 2004 and 2009. Data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey showed mothers paid an average $1,148 out of pocket in 2009 after averaging $661 five years prior.

    Reuters reported that 26-year-old Lindsay Durrenberger said her Blue Cross Blue Shield plan covered most of her $8,000 in birthing expenses, but “she was surprised that opting for an epidural meant she paid $550 for the out-of-pocket cost to the anesthesiologist.” She was also billed $200 for two pediatrician visits while in the hospital and $400 for her son’s circumcision. Durrenberger told Reuters that she expects to pay $1349 out-of-pocket for the birth.

    “At this point, it’s kind of nerve-wracking,” Durrenberger told Reuters. “I’m still waiting for the bomb to drop.”

    If your family is struggling to pay medical bills, you may be able to eliminate that debt by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy or you could significantly reduce the amount you owe by filing Chapter 13 . If you want to know what options you have, complete the form on this page to have our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys review your case or take action now by contacting our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • New Study Says Equipping Mortgage Servicers Better Could Have Prevented 800K Foreclosures

    We spent much of last week discussing options for Illinois homeowners in need of foreclosure help , and on September 20, 2012, the Chicago Tribune reported that 800,000 foreclosures “could have been prevented if large mortgage servicers had been better equipped to deal with the crush of troubled homeowners who needed help.” These were the findings of the Treasury Department’s latest report on the $75 billion Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The study found “more than 1 million temporary and permanent modifications have failed since the administration kicked off its program shortly after President Barack Obama took office in 2009,” according to the Tribune.

    However, the news program “Dan Rather Reports” examined the effects HAMP was having in the December 2010 episode above, entitled “Home Loans From Hell.” Rather began the program by noting that 14 percent of homeowners in the country were delinquent on their mortgages at the time the show aired, and describing the robo-signing scandal as “just the tip of the iceberg.”

    “A little-reported and little-understood aspect to the foreclosure crisis … is that foreclosure is in fact a lucrative profit center for the servicers who are making millions off a laundry list of fees,” Rather said. “The banks who service home loans dispute this, but we’ve been talking to homeowners across the country who say their servicers pushed them into foreclosure instead of working with them to modify their loans.”

    The Tribune reported that researchers in the Treasury Department’s latest report found “great inconsistency in how large servicers responded to the program.” Some large servicers offered half as many loan modifications as other companies while other “more successful servicers” that renegotiated mortgages had programs and trained staff in place long before HAMP began, according to the Tribune.

    “This industry is mainly about accepting checks,” University of Chicago Booth School of Business assistant professor Amit Seru told the Tribune. “One wasn’t expected to be dealing with so many distressed borrowers.”

    If you are facing foreclosure, you should know that filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can offer you real relief that could help you discharge much of your unsecured debt and may allow you to get current on your mortgage. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can determine whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the better option for you and your family when you complete the form on this page or contact our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers