Urgent medical needs cannot always wait until a patient’s income can cover the cost of the care he or she requires. As a result, overwhelming medical bills are now the primary reason that Americans file for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 personal bankruptcies.

There are a number of reasons why even the most financially responsible Americans find themselves seeking bankruptcy protections as a result of significant medical debt. Purchasing a home, taking out student loans and applying for credit cards are calculated decisions. Individuals are not compelled to do any of these things. However, seeking urgent medical care for an unexpected illness or injury can happen to anyone at any time. As a result, many people cannot remain financially “smart” when it comes to hospital bills. They simply must be incurred.

Some physicians and dentists are taking advantage of this epidemic by extending lines of credit to their patients. But these loans are treated like all others. Creditors of any stripe expect payment and will go to great lengths in order to secure that payment.

If you have stumbled upon harm times medically, do not be ashamed or afraid to approach an experienced bankruptcy attorney for advice. The recession educated Americans about the ways in which even financially responsible Americans can fall on hard times with very little warning. What is important now is that you get back on your feet financially and obtain a fresh start through bankruptcy if that is the right choice for you and your family.

Source: New York Times, “Patients Mired in Costly Credit From Doctors,” Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Oct. 13, 2013