The complex issue of medical debt

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2018 | Firm News, Personal Bankruptcy |

Medical debt has moved to the forefront of national concern in recent years. Although it appears to be on the slight decline, it sends countless Americans into financial crises year after year. Personal bankruptcy has been the answer for many Floridians, but what seem to be the causes of medical debt overall? 

Most would wish to do away with heated creditor calls and the worry that monthly bills may go unpaid. That is why, as The Atlantic noted in a 2014 article, so many Americans are turning to personal bankruptcy to address outstanding medical debt. At the time of the article’s publishing, the most common cause of personal bankruptcy was medical bankruptcy, as healthcare debt often makes credit card and bank debt pale in comparison. However, The Atlantic points out that some hospitals make errors when issuing bills, while others charge different amounts for the same procedures. These scares made the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion seem all the more like heroes during stressful times.

Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization striving for a universal national health plan, also considers the ways medical debt has created challenges for so many Americans. The PNHP recognizes the many benefits of the Affordable Care Act, but examines the ways that personal bankruptcy still greatly affects patients. Roughly 43.8 million Americans struggled to pay medical bills in 2016 alone. Even more worrisome is the Consumer Reports survey that found that 55 percent of consumers feared they would not have the coverage to secure proper care in the future. While the expansion of Medicaid certainly helped some patients, the PNHP asserts that much of the reason for personal bankruptcy reduction rates are due to an improved economy and the 2005 bankruptcy act, which made it more difficult to file for bankruptcy. The opinions on solving this national issue vary, but it is clear that there are still a large number of Americans grappling with the pressure of medical debt.