Ch 7 And Ongoing Medical Treatment
I've read that doctor bills are considered unsecured debt and you're not supposed to have paid any of your doctors more than $600 total in the 6 months preceding filing for Chapter 7 or the Trustee will go after that money. What if you're underdoing regular, permanent, ongoing treatments for an incurable disease? What if the payments are more than $600, considerably more? If you are fortunate enough to find a specialist who will let you run a tab, do you have to include that tab in your bankruptcy? If you do, you'll lose your doctor. If your treatments are more than $600, and you're able to pay them as you go, will the Trustee will go after those payments? If he does, you'll lose your doctor. My husband has had rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years. The medication he has been on is not working anymore, and he is in quite a bit of pain, his joints are locking up, he has lost 14 percent of his body weight in 3 months, and his fatigue is sometimes overwhelming. X-rays show there is quite a bit of damage in his feet and hands. There are new meds out now, biologic response modifiers, one of them being Remicade, that the rheumatologist wants to put him on. Our insurance is the 80/20 variety, and our share of the negoitated price will be $806 per treatment. This medication is infused via IV in the doctor's office or a hospital over a two-hour period. After the initial infusion, there is a second one two weeks later, a third one four weeks after the second, and after that the infusions are done every eight weeks. At $806 a pop, this will add up quickly. My husband is trying to hide this painful, dibilitating condition from his current employer because he does not want to lose his job. The job doesn't pay very well, he has no benefits, and gets no time off, but we need this crummy job. (I'm not whining, Robert, I'm explaining.) Actually, this is a temporary 18-month contract, and we're hoping the company will make the job permanent at the end of the contract -- but getting any job at age 57 can be quite difficult these days, and impossible if you walk and act like you're 77. At first I thought we could not afford to get these treatments. Now I know that we cannot afford not to. So he needs this medication, he needs it desperately. If I am able to find the money to pay for this, will it screw up the Chapter 7? Once we decide where we'll go for treatment, and we need to decide quite soon because he's declining fast, we need to stay with that doctor. Is there any provision in Chapter 7 that won't interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, because if the Trustee gets involved with the doctor's payments, there will be no relationship or treatment. One more question -- if I sell my engagement ring to invest the money in his treatments, will that screw up our Chapter 7? Here in Texas, we get a hefty exemption, $60K for a couple. The ring is worth several grand, and was bought many years ago in bettr times, and it's the only piece of real jewelry I own, other than my IBM Kiss Off watch. Or...what if I sell it and pay off my school taxes, which are delinquent, and prepay next year's taxes, which are due in January. Due to long-term unemployment and then underemployment, there will be no money saved to pay them. That would free up income to pay for the treatments. Is selling exempt property to pay for a spouse's medical treatment or to pay property taxes considered preferred payments? Thank you for your help with this. I'm sorry it is so long. I'm feeling panicked the how fast his condition is deteriorating, and I need to get him help asap.
Preferential payments refer only to payments that are made on pre-existing debt. The Trustee will have no interest in payments you make for current treatment. There are ways to structure things so that your husband can obtain the medical treatment he needs. I recommend sitting down and going over things with a local bankruptcy attorney; you should be able to develop a good strategy.
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