Medical debt is once again receiving attention from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a presidential candidate in 2020. Sanders has repeatedly stated he wishes to enact Medicare for All, a policy that would allow individuals to see doctors at no charge. Furthermore, Senator Sanders wants to relieve individuals of their past-due medical bills. —
Sanders continues to expound on the deficiencies of the health care system and it taking it a step further now. His proposal would eliminate approximately $81 billion in medical bills and reform the 2005 bankruptcy law so it would be easier to get relief from these liabilities.
Sanders recently told CNN that half a million Americans go bankrupt every year as a result of high medical bills. This statistic comes from an American Journal of Public Health editorial that has come under a great deal of fire. However, Sanders feels medical debt remains a serious issue in this country, and many Americans do struggle to pay this type of debt.
Health Affairs, a medical journal, reported 46 million men and women have a minimum of one unpaid medical bill on their credit report. These bills appear on the credit report when they go unpaid and are referred to collections. The average debt of these bills is $600. Furthermore, this isn't the whole story.
People often use a credit card to pay the medical debt or enter into a payment plan with the provider to ensure the debt doesn't make its way to a collection agency. Approximately 25 percent of non-elderly adults struggle to pay their medical debt, as reported by The Commonwealth Fund in 2018. This is true for those with and without health insurance coverage.
High deductibles contribute to this issue, as people must now pay more out-of-pocket before their coverage kicks in. Deductibles have risen by $433 over the past decade, but employee salaries have not kept up. Of those surveyed, 14 percent of non-elderly adults who obtained health care coverage through their employer stated out-of-pocket medical expenses accounted for ten percent or more of the family's income. In 2003, this figure was only six percent.
Additionally, these individuals stated they would be unable to pay a $1,000 medical bill that came up suddenly within 30 days. Unexpected medical bills take a toll on many budgets. This often occurs when a person must see a medical professional that is not in their network.
Sadly, one in six ER visits and hospital stays were out of network in 2017, which explains why medical debt continues to be so high. While most families don't have this issue, as their out-of-pocket costs tend to be reasonable each year, an emergency can do significant damage to the budget in a short period of time.
Congress does recognize this is a problem and several bills are making their way through the legislature to address the issue. Nevertheless, those who do file for bankruptcy tend to have other bills in addition to the medical debt. This needs to be remembered when people start pointing their finger at medical professionals as the sole cause of financial issues in America.
Numerous people have fears about bankruptcy and how it will affect their financial future. They wonder if they will qualify for relief and what debts may be eliminated using this method. John A. Steinberger & Associates can be of great help in answering these questions and providing the information consumers need to determine if this is the solution for their debt issues.
Release ID: 88917263