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A study published by the Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit group working to improve the health care system in the U.S., revealed that many Latinos in the U.S. lacked health insurance in 2012. Those without health insurance are at greater risk of suffering serious financial hardships from unexpected medical bills. The number of bankruptcies in the Latino community is increasing, partially attributable to medical debts. People should be aware of the extent of the problem of medical debt and how bankruptcy may be a solution to that problem.

Medical debts on the rise

According to the Commonwealth Fund study, less than half the Latino population in the U.S. had full insurance coverage in 2012. That means that about 28 million Latinos lack complete health insurance coverage. The report revealed that Latinos are the least likely to be insured of all major ethnic groups in the country and the largest group of uninsured people in the U.S.

NerdWallet, a consumer financial planning site, estimates that almost 25 percent of Latinos under the age of 65 years old will struggle with medical debt in 2013. NerdWallet reported that Latinos are 14 percent more likely to have difficulties paying medical bills than the average American.

While Latinos file bankruptcy on average at a rate lower than other racial groups, mounting medical costs have driven more Latinos to file bankruptcy. The 2010 Census showed that Latinos made up 16.3 percent of the country’s population, and data from the Center for Consumer Financial Research revealed 8.68 percent of people who filed personal bankruptcy in 2010 were Latino. However, Center for Consumer Financial Research data showed that personal bankruptcies among Latinos increased by approximately 50 percent from 2006 through 2010. NerdWallet estimates that about 330,370 people reside in Latino households in the U.S. that will declare bankruptcy in 2013.

Bankruptcy a possible solution

Bankruptcy can be a means for people to deal with crushing medical debts. Those who go through the bankruptcy process successfully can eliminate many unsecured debts in the bankruptcy debt discharge, such as medical bills, credit card debt and personal loans. Filing bankruptcy also offers people protection from creditors’ harassment through the automatic stay on collection actions that goes into effect with the filing of a bankruptcy petition.

Speak with an attorney

Unexpected medical issues can result in massive debts. Those who lack health insurance can fall into serious financial difficulties because of an accident or illness. If you have medical bills that you cannot pay, speak with a seasoned bankruptcy attorney who can discuss all of the debt relief options available to help you.

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