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Help: Out-of-control medical expenses and looking for options

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  • Question: Help: Out-of-control medical expenses and looking for options

    Looking for any advice out there someone might have:
    Our son has a severe behavioral health problem. It is treatable but it is the sort of thing that requires extreme specialization (took us years to even find anybody who understood the condition). At this point he has become dangerous to himself and others and we had to put him in a residential care facility several months ago that specializes in his condition (there are very few in the country; we had tried a lot of other things but your average behavioral health facility just does not have the expertise). As you may have guessed the costs of this place are outrageously expensive. So far we have not been able to get insurance to pay anything (still working on it but not counting on it). Our income is actually quite high (the only reason this was possible at all) but the costs of this facility are nearly the same as our take-home pay.

    We have racked up a ton of debt to cover the costs but now are about at the limit of what we can borrow. We are at the point of tapping our retirement savings and unfortunately we are going to have to tap those hard. Our son still needs to be there several more months before there is any hope that he can be safe enough to come home. We finally thought that it was time to look at bankruptcy as a means to protect our retirement savings. Realistically, even if we wiped out all of our debts we would still have to tap the retirement accounts, just not as hard. We spoke with a couple of attorneys who have told us 1) our income is far too high for typical Chapter 7 filings in Texas, 2) no court is going to remotely accept the amount of money we are spending on our son as justified, and 3) even Chapter 13 would be unlikely to be helpful as the courts would still be unwilling to provide meaningful temporary relief for all of the same reasons.

    We really are desperate to find a solution that doesn't ruin our future. We can in principle hit our retirement accounts but that is a hugely slippery slope. Aside from worry about our future retirement, there is the simple fact that there is no guarantee that even if this treatment helps our son that there could not be relapses or other issues in the future that might require additional spending. And there is the reality that, with the kind of money we are talking about, the risk of job loss is especially scary (i.e. the higher the income the harder it is to find a job with comparable pay). So we must retain some kind of nest egg; it is too dangerous not to.

    Does anybody know of any angle on this that we are not aware of? We are going to have to make some tough choices very soon and the prospect scares us.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    If the expenses with your son are ongoing, bankruptcy isn't going to be a tremendous help, it's mainly for debts, after all, not for expenses you're planning to incur down the line. So it would only wipe out debts you've incurred to this point, not the ongoing costs of your son's care, which sounds like it's the larger problem.

    You might start looking into your legal options for dealing with the insurance co and trying to get them to pay up; that may be a more productive course for you. Your other option would be to start looking at some "quality of life" reductions to free up some money...sell the house and buy a smaller one, etc. Don't know if that's an option for you or not, but that's certainly something you'd want to look at before touching retirement money.
    This post does not constitute legal advice. If you use this advice instead of that of a lawyer, God help you.
    Filed CH 7: 5/11/17 341: 6/12/17 Discharge: 8/14/17

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    • #3
      Thanks. We are already pursuing options with the insurance company. But at best it is going to take quite some time and, from what we know of other families, our odds are not fantastic (even if we get something it will likely only be a fraction of our outlay).

      Getting rid of the debts, though, would actually be a very big help. Without the debt we probably only have to tap less than 10% of our retirement savings. With the debt we have to tap well over 50% of our retirement savings.

      To be clear, my main question (unless there is some other angle I am missing) is whether anybody knows whether there is some strategy to convince a court to accept a catastrophic behavioral-health expense. Has somebody else had a similar sort of situation that they have successfully navigated?
      Last edited by GeekWithKids; 06-28-2017, 11:45 PM.

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      • #4
        DO NOT TAP YOUR RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS! It would seem that parents can always give up parental rights to a child so that the state takes care of him. You could also claim to the police that he has stated that he wants to kill a lot of people, and then they would have a responsibility to deal with it. I think this would count under "mental health care" under the ACA, so you should look into getting that. GOOD LUCK!

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        • #5
          Thanks but why would we relinquish our rights? That is what we are trying to avoid.

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