Medical Debt Looms Large In The Face Of Unemployment
Medical debt has risen to become a large reason why people seek bankruptcy protection. According to CredAbility, a non–profit credit counseling company, approximately 20 percent of people mentioned medical debt as a reason why they were looking for financial counseling in 2011.
That number is up 13 percent from the previous two years.
A recent survey done by the Commonwealth Fund showed that one out of five adults is currently paying off debt from medical bills.
One reason experts are attributing the rise in medical debt is the high unemployment rate.
Insurance benefits often curtail much of the burden that medical bills put on Americans. With the unemployment rate somewhere in the 8-9 percent range, Americans are prone to bear the brunt of their medical expenses on their own.
However, even Americans who are covered by health insurances plans can still accrue a large amount medical debt. According to Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, around two-thirds of people with medical debt had health insurance coverage when the medical emergency occurred.
With companies shedding costs by reducing coverage and shifting the burden of cost to the employee, many Americans are left with expensive medical bills.
As a result, many employees opt for a higher deductable to lower the monthly charge for coverage. Although this offers short term relief, in the long run it often costs employees more money. According to the Commonwealth Fund survey, over half of the people with a deductible higher than $1,000 reported trouble paying their medical bills.
Contributing to a rise in people seeking financial help for their medical bill is the rate at which medical bills are referred to collection agencies. Often, medical bills carry a high negative balance; a balance in which the hospitals and clinics can’t afford to pursue on their own.
Mistakes Are Made
One common mistake Americans make to combat high medical bills is putting the expenses on to credit cards. Some people even open up new credit cards for the sole purpose of paying for doctor visits and other medical expenses.
Another actions Americans take to pay for medical expenses is a home equity loan. The loan payments that are produced from this type of loan can potentially rise higher than the original medical bill you had set out to combat. Experts warn to avoid taking out this type of loan due to the heightened risks involved, including the possibility of losing your home.
Mistakes are also common on the hospital’s end as well. Experts suggest being diligent in examining your medical bill before you leave the hospital. Many tests and services are often added errantly on to bills.
Experts suggest contacting the hospital or clinic directly to solve medical debt issues. Experts also warn that reaching for a credit card should be a last resort, causing financial headaches further down the line.