Credit counseling and bankruptcy
If you are having trouble paying your medical bills, a good credit counselor may be able to help by giving you advice on managing your money and debts and helping you develop a budget. Before using a credit counseling agency, be sure to find out what exactly they can help you with and how much they will charge.
The Federal Trade Commission has produced a list of "Important Questions to Ask When Choosing a Credit Counselor."
For a list of certified nonprofit credit counseling agencies in California click here.
As with any type of debt, medical debt may be dischargeable through bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can help you protect assets or future income, but it can also hurt your credit. You should seek legal advice to see how it will affect your particular situation.
For more information on bankruptcy:
- Bankruptcy: Your Right to a Financial Fresh Start . This publication outlines new rules for filing personal bankruptcy that became effective in October 2005. By Consumer Action.
- What Can I Do If I Can’t Pay My Debts? This pamphlet describes state law related to debts and bankruptcy, and includes information on how to find a lawyer that you can afford. By State Bar of California.
- Answering Questions About Bankruptcy, pp. 19-25 in Avoiding and Managing Medical Debt. By National Endowment for Financial Education.
- Lawyer Referral Services can refer you to a bankruptcy attorney who can give you an idea of your options and potential costs for around $30-40.
- Library of Self-Help Resources