If you have health insurance, do you still need to worry about medical debt? In theory, the answer should be no; after all, the main purpose of having insurance is to cover the medical costs when you or a close family member gets sick.
In practice, however, the answer is quite different. After the co-pays and premium hikes have been factored in, the increasing out-of-pocket cost of healthcare can be a burden even for someone with health insurance.
This, in turn, can be a factor in filing for bankruptcy in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley or elsewhere in Texas.
The National Center for Health Statistics recently released the results of a survey on payment of medical bills. In 2010, one of every five families in the U.S. reported having trouble paying medical bills. By last year, the percentage had gone up sharply to nearly one in every three.
To be sure, problems with medical debt are more frequent for people without insurance. Among the uninsured, nearly half report problems with paying medical bills.
The real surprise is how many people with insurance also have problems. The survey showed that 30 percent of the people with private insurance reported problems with paying their medical bills. For those with public insurance, the percentage was 40 percent.
In other words, simply having insurance does not necessarily protect people from problems with medical debt. If the premium increases and deductibles are excessively high, the protections health insurance was supposed to offer start to seem phony.
Source: “Insured but bankrupt: The hidden side of health care costs,” Dr. Howard Brody, Houston Chronicle, 3-19-12