One of our most important themes in this blog is that medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy.
As we discussed in our December 6 post, the ever-rising cost of health care has made medical bills a bitter pill to swallow for large numbers of Americans. Many of the people struggling with medical debt are Texans, due to the fact that there are so many people here who lack health insurance.
In this post, we will discuss how medical debt can be a problem even for people who do have insurance.
It can be a problem because the costs of care are so high compared to what many insurance policies actually cover.
For example, a hospital stay of only a few days can result in medical bills totaling tens of thousands of dollars. Even if someone has health insurance, insurance does not necessarily pick up the entire tab.
To be sure, the federal government is trying to implement a sweeping health insurance law called the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The reality for many people of low or moderate income, however, is that premiums for health insurance seem to keep going up. Deductibles and co-pays seem to be doing the same. The result is an ongoing financial challenge for many people, where paying out-of-pocket costs for health care competes with mortgage payments and other expenses for limited family dollars.
Many of the people experiencing this are working hard and earning as much as they can. But the reality is that many people are only one major illness or injury away from having to take on a level of medical debt that may ultimately be unsustainable.
Source: Sioux City Journal, “Medical costs lead to financial worries,” Nick Hytrek, Dec. 22, 2013