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Medical bills are often a huge contributor to credit card debt

A recently conducted survey shows that the average amount of credit card debt most households carry is down from $9,887 five years ago, to $7,145 at present. However, many households still rely on credit cards to pick up basic living expenses to cover rent, bills, groceries, utilities and more.

The survey also revealed that medical bills are one of the leading expenses contributing to mounting credit card debt. In fact, nearly half of both low-income and moderate-income households across the nation carry some medical debt on their credit card. The average amount of medical debt carried on credit cards was discerned to be $1,678.

It does not take long after a trip to the doctor’s office or the emergency room before the bill comes. When an individual does not have the funds to pay the bill, the hospital will send letters warning about turning the bill over to a collector and then the collector will start calling.

For many residents in New Jersey, receiving these phone calls feels like some sort of punishment. It is frightening, and many want to make the creditor harassment end as quickly as possible. In order to make the phone calls stop, some individuals will put the bill on a credit card. This can lead to paying more in interest and fines if the payment is late.

Even if a medical bill is paid and not put on a credit card, the spending can still result in needing to then cover other expenses with a credit card. The cycle can feel endless.

When the bills and debt spiral out of control, choking off an individual’s financial stability, there are options to remedy the situation. One viable option is seeking a discharge of credit card debt and medical bills through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is a serious decision that is typically best made with the close guidance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Source: The New York Times, “Medical Costs Contribute to Credit Card Debt,” Ann Carrns, May 22, 2013

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