Onerous medical bills can take a devastating toll on your finances. According to a 2013 study from price-comparison site NerdWallet Health based on several sources of data, including the CDC, the U.S. Census, the Commonwealth Fund and the federal court system, health care costs are the number one cause of bankruptcy filings. This year, almost two million Americans will file for bankruptcy due to an inability to pay medical bills.In the long term, one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare,” is to bolster people’s ability to pay for health care services. Once the kinks are worked out of the system and more Americans have health care coverage, this goal may ultimately be realized. Presently, however, Obamacare has actually resulted in some people being pushed to the brink of financial insolvency as they dedicate more household resources to pay health insurance premiums in order to get in compliance with the law.

Many people will have to obtain or upgrade health plans or face hundreds in penalties

Under the Affordable Care Act, a number of people who already have health plans will have to upgrade their policies in order to secure the minimum amount of coverage required. Recently, the administration announced that Americans whose health plans will not meet the minimum requirements do not have to switch immediately. However, eventually these individuals will have to obtain more comprehensive coverage, and getting ahead of the game by shopping for a more expensive policy can be financially draining.

Of course, many people do not yet have health insurance coverage at all. For these individuals, obtaining an Obamacare compliant plan can mean hundreds of dollars added to a monthly household budget. Those who do not fall under one of several exemptions built into the law and fail to obtain a policy that offers enough coverage will have to pay a tax penalty.

In 2014, this penalty will be $95 per person or one percent of annual income, whichever is higher, up to a maximum of $285. In 2015, the penalty will grow to $325 per person or two percent of annual income, up to $975. By 2016, it will be $695 or 2.5 percent of income, up to $2,085, and it will thereafter be adjusted to account for changes in the cost of living.

Could bankruptcy help you turn your financial life around? Talk to a lawyer to find out

For those already struggling with bills, an obligation to pay more every month for an Obamacare compliant health pay or a tax penalty can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If you find yourself in this situation, you could have eligibility for legal solutions to help you reverse your financial situation.

Filing for bankruptcy can wipe out most types of debt, freeing up future income for other purposes. If you are struggling to pay your bills and new health plan requirements are further straining your finances, bankruptcy could be advantageous. Speak to a bankruptcy lawyer to explore whether bankruptcy could be the right solution to your financial problems.

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