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How does medical debt affect people?

Despite the Affordable Care Act providing an estimated 15 million people health insurance, they did not previously have, insurance itself does not mean you will not have medical bills. For many Americans, even those with health insurance, living paycheck-to-paycheck is a way of life that is made even more difficult with an illness or accident.

According to the New York Times, an estimated 20 percent of those younger than 65 say they are struggling to pay medical bills—and these are the ones with insurance. That compares with 53 percent of that same age group who are without insurance and find it difficult to pay off medical debt. These numbers indicate the ever-increasing cost of health care in the U.S.

Since before 2000, health insurers began requiring policyholders to pay more in out-of-pocket costs through higher co-pays and larger deductibles. While Obamacare protected consumers from being charged exorbitant health fees by making insurers offer a broader range of coverage, it also encouraged or made possible higher deductibles.

The insured who are struggling to pay health-care bills have turned to a variety of methods to pay down medical debt:

  • 63 percent used most or all of their savings
  • 42 percent got a second job or increased work hours
  • 14 percent moved or rented out rooms
  • 11 percent sought help from a charity

As evidenced by these survey participants, those with large medical debt are impacted in many ways in their daily lives. From not purchasing needed medication or seeing a doctor when needed, Americans are making decisions that affect their employment by working extended hours or a taking on another job, moving in with family or moving to less-expensive housing, and going deep into credit-card debt to help pay the bills.

This article contains important information about medical debt that is general in nature. It should not be considered legal advice.

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