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Tennesseans may face increasing medical debt

As many Tennesseans face increasing medical costs, a recent article about the financial woes of the Medicare program may cause many to fear that their medical debt will soon become unmanageable.

The article, authored by Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais, noted that the most recent annual report issued by the Medicare Board of Trustees -- a nonpartisan group -- predicts that Medicare will go bankrupt in 2024.

There might be several factors contributing to Medicare's lack of financial sustainability. First, many consumers in Tennessee and nationwide are experiencing longer life expectancies, with corresponding medical needs. Medical technology costs have also increased. Shifting population demographics, caused by the retirement of many Baby Boomers, is yet another cause. In many industries, retirees will soon outnumber workers.

The average cost of a visit to a doctor may also be increasing. According to a recent anonymous survey, orthopedic surgeons indicated that 24 percent of the tests they ordered may not have been medically unnecessary. In addition, doctor visits resulting in prescriptions of 5 or more drugs have nearly tripled since 1996. The number of MRI scans in the same period quadrupled.

If you are struggling to manage your medical debt, an attorney may be able to offer some solutions. For example, you may not have known that medical debt often can be discharged in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. In addition, there may be other strategies available to return you to a more stable financial footing. For example, you may find that a payment plan is a better option than discharge.

Source: The Tennessean, "DesJarlais: Ryan's Path to Prosperity is best way to save Medicare," Scott Desjarlais, Aug. 21, 2012

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