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Is crowdfunding a good option for paying off medical debt?

Despite the fact that more people in Virginia and around the country have access to medical insurance since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, financial issues because of medical debt are a problem for a lot of them. Some patients turn to crowdfunding sites, including GoFundMe, Red Basket, PlumFund, GiveForward and FundRazr, to help with their medical bills. A study demonstrates that these types of campaigns may not completely ease the pain of high debt levels.

According to NerdWallet, only 11 percent of all medical bill campaigns on the five crowdfunding sites it examined were fully funded in 2015. Medical bill campaigns made up 41 percent of all of the different types of crowdfunding campaigns during the year. This means that many people will have to turn to alternative means to tackle their medical debts beyond crowdfunding campaigns.

Experts recommend that patients try to negotiate bill payment schedules with their medical providers before the debts are turned over to collection agencies, which usually happens after about 120 days. The collection agencies will then make negative reports to the debtors' credit reports. If people are not able to pay their medical bills, they might want to consider filing for bankruptcy. When a bill is left unpaid, it may damage a person's credit more than filing bankruptcy would in the long run.

While filing for bankruptcy will cause some damage to credit scores, the adverse effect will go away if people start a pattern of making their payments on time and spending reasonably. A bankruptcy attorney may advise clients about whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 might be an appropriate option for seeking relief from overwhelming debt.

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