Medical Debt Still Impacts Many Americans

medical debtMany American families, despite health insurance, struggle to pay their medical bills. This information was provided by a report by NerdWallet Health. The report linked many bankruptcies to medical debt.

Medical debt is a problem for the insured as well as the uninsured. Medical costs continue to rise and many medical expenses are paid out of pocket by patients. The American Medical Association found that 23.6 percent of payments were paid by patients. Insurances with high deductible plans can have out of pocket expenses from $5,000 to $10,000 for an operation or procedure.

The Affordable Care Act attempts to help this problem with preventative testing that doesn't require a co-pay. This does not however help those already in medical debt due to illness and expensive treatments.

Doctors are aware of the problems that lead patients to lose health insurance and avoid treatments.

Patients with illnesses like cancer, that require long term treatments, often go into debt. Many cancer patients spent a billion dollars yearly on out of pocket expenses. Talking with the doctor about costs can lead to lower bills or a payment plan that patients can afford. 

The Affordable Care Act leads to more insurance plans that families can afford. It has preventative services that could lead to early detection and treatment of disease. This has little to do with eliminating medical debt. The program gives Americans more options to find coverage if they do not have it.

Non-profit organizations such as provide great resources. One way to reduce medical bills is to only see doctors that participate in your health plan. Ask to be sent or given an itemized bill so you can see what you are being charged for. Try to have lab tests performed by one associated with your hospital or doctor that is covered. When insurance does not cover the cost, question the insurance company and hospital.

On average medical bills and procedures are more expensive in the United States than other countries. For example, a colonoscopy is an expensive health screening test that many Americans have regularly. The cost ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 per procedure. Often there are less expensive ways to screen for colon cancer that are used in other countries. 

Many of the medications prescribed for illnesses are very expensive. Perhaps when hospitals and doctors review the testing, operations, medications and procedures used elsewhere, and begin to find less expensive treatments when possible, then medical debt might begin to change in the US.

Still there are many agencies that can help with medical debt so families and individuals can deal with the problems.


    • krantcents

      krantcents 10/06/2013 11:16 a.m. #

      Medical debt is one the few forms of debt that is negotiable. Generally speaking, you can get good terms too. You cannot ignore these bills, but you can reduce them with just a little effort.

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