Here’s the bottom-line question underlying the focal point of today’s blog post: Why is medical debt such a huge problem in the United States?
And, indeed, it is a big problem. A writer in one media article focusing on this singular type of debt states that the legacy of the 21st century thus far is medical debt “from which the average American simply cannot escape.”
One quick and obvious explanation for the medical debt trap that ensnares many people in Texas and nationally is that medical outlays often confront an individual or family unexpectedly.
That makes budgeting for them unlikely in most cases. It’s simply hard to anticipate a broken arm or cancer and dutifully set up an account to pay for it months in advance of its occurrence.
Another reason why so many Americans are forced to seek debt relief from medical bills is that medical care isn’t cheap.
We all know that. In fact, its prohibitively large price tag in many instances precludes many people from even seeking care that they desperately need.
And here’s a third issue, termed by the study author of a Kaiser Family Foundation report as the “invisible problem” inherent with medical care: Having insurance often doesn’t solve the debt problem at all. Insurance companies and employers are consistently seeking to pass along more medical expenses to policy holders, the result being that co-pays, deductibles and so-called out-of-pocket expenses have all ballooned in recent years.
The accretion of such costs makes medical care the catalyst in a staggeringly high number of debt collections. Reportedly, more than half of all collections reported to consumer credit agencies relate to unresolved medical debt.
That is obviously a serious national problem that requires imminent attention at the highest level of policy making.
Source: MainStreet, “The truth about medical debt: It’s a lot higher than you think,” Eric Reed, Jan. 15, 2015