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Medical debt cost her family almost everything

The story of one American family can by turns break your heart and fill you with hope. The tale began 11 years ago when a couple found out they were going to become parents of twins. They were happy to hear the news, but just 24 weeks into her pregnancy, the mom gave premature birth.

Sixteen weeks early, the boys weighed a little less than two pounds each. The thighs of the micro-preemies were smaller than her pinky finger, she remembers. The tiny babies were beset with a barrage of medical issues that included "brain hemorrhages, retinal complications, heart defects, cerebral palsy, blood infections, hernias, Rickets, jaundice and severely compromised lungs to name a few," the mother wrote recently for a newspaper.

On top of worrying and caring for babies fighting for life, the parents had another enormous challenge on their hands: how to pay for the expensive medical care their twins needed. Though the parents were middle class, college-educated, productive homeowners with good jobs and medical insurance, they were unprepared for the mountain of medical debt that piled up from the moment their medical odyssey began.

Vaccines the boys required for three years were not covered by insurance, for instance, and cost $3,600 per month. By the time the two boys were a year and a half old, the parents owed more than $450,000 in medical debt. "We liquidated our retirement accounts, saving account, sold everything we owned to try and pay it off," the mom wrote recently for The Guardian.

It was not enough. "We lost our house, our cars, our possessions, and most importantly, our dignity."

They did not lose each other, however. Eleven years later, the growing boys "are smart and funny and caring, and the absolute joy in my life," the mom writes.

Love and perseverance triumphed in the end, but the financial hardships the family endured were extraordinarily difficult. Their story is not a terribly rare one, unfortunately. Medical catastrophes can lead to financial devastation under the weight of medical debt.

If you face similar circumstances, you can talk to an attorney experienced in finding debt solutions by negotiating with your creditors and reaching an affordable, workable debt settlement.

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