Medical debt is a common problem in the United States. Many people suffer from health problems, but they cannot pay their medical bills. Eventually, these become medical debts with which they struggle for several years. Unfortunately, neither private nor public health insurance could cover many of them.
We will highlight the details of America’s health problem. Next, we will focus on its effects on individuals, such as financial issues, psychological issues, and public health issues. Next, we’ll show you how to manage your current medical debts. Finally, we’ll explain how you can prepare for financial and medical emergencies.
You need to understand the extent of medical debt problems so that you can resolve yours. Also, you need to know its effects on daily life so that you can deal with them. If you are struggling with medical debt, our tips may help you deal with it. Emergencies are a part of human life, so you should anticipate such scenarios.
Medical debt is a national problem
Know that you are not the only one with medical debt. According to SingleCare’s medical debt statistics for 2021, more than one in four Americans struggle with medical bills.
Health care costs are so unbearable that nearly one in three Americans have admitted to delaying care because of it. For example, the average hospital stay costs $ 5,220 per day in the United States.
Some Americans are even worried about going to the emergency room by ambulance because of the medical costs. In 2018, a woman begged people not to call an ambulance after a train injured her leg.
That’s understandable, given the crippling medical debt for personal finances. More than half of American citizens with unpaid medical bills do not carry any other type of debt.
Today, approximately 180 million Americans have private health insurance from their employers. Unfortunately, they lose coverage from their health insurers if they lose their jobs.
On the other hand, Medicare public health insurance also has major problems. Specifically, some doctors abuse the system, increasing costs for patients.
How Does Medical Debt Affect People?
This is how medical bills affect the nation, but what about regular people like you? Well, Americans are facing the brunt of this national problem in several ways.
The most obvious is its effects on people’s finances. It probably took a huge chunk of your savings. Worse yet, some people postpone their medical payments, so they owe more interest later.
Insurmountable medical debts also cause anxiety in people. They cause a whirlwind of negative feelings that could later cause psychological problems.
Finally, it harms public health, making daily life more difficult. In turn, this could interfere with normal societal functions, especially during a pandemic.
We will explain how badly unpaid medical bills are for people. Check each section and see if any of them apply to your current situation.
As we mentioned, medical debts seriously damage personal finances. Someone could go bankrupt with no other debt except unpaid medical bills.
Worse yet, it has a huge impact on credit scores. Medical debt can deduct 100 points from your credit score. This exacerbates the financial difficulties.
Having insurance also provides insufficient assistance. Depending on your insurance plan, it may only reduce a fraction of your debt or not at all.
Mental health problems
Some people just can’t keep up with their deferred health care payments. As a result, they may have an unreasonable fear of the future. Eventually, they experience severe anxiety.
Others may simply enter a state of denial, ignoring phone calls from debt collectors. They may also feel more stressed than ever before. Worse, they might explode with anger.
These mental health problems can progress to psychosomatic problems. In other words, psychological problems can manifest as migraines or other physical conditions.
Implications for public health
When people cannot afford medical bills, it also affects the health of their community. What else, the current COVID-19 pandemic highlights health care issues in the United States.
The government advises Americans to get tested even for minor symptoms of coronavirus. Unfortunately, they have to pay for it themselves. In response, they are avoiding COVID testing.
Additionally, health insurance may not cover their treatment for the coronavirus. Together, these issues are worsening the United States’ response to COVID-19 and the spread of the virus.
How to manage medical debt
You can start to manage your unpaid hospital expenses by reading all the related documents. Understand all the terms and conditions to find out how your billing will work.
Write down any questions you may have regarding billing statements. If you think the hospital has mis-coded your medical bills, dispute the charges.
Additionally, you can establish a payment plan with your healthcare provider. They usually don’t share your details with the major credit bureaus, so you can avoid damaging your credit.
Alternatively, you can apply for a financial aid policy at your hospital. If you qualify, your hospital may cut your balance in half or forgive it entirely.
Prioritize other forms of debt you have over unpaid medical bills. Federal law prevents medical debt from showing on your credit report until it is 6 months past due.
As much as possible, avoid covering hospital costs with your credit card. Otherwise, it will attach a high rate of interest to your medical debts.
How to prepare for medical and financial difficulties
No one can predict when they will face a sudden medical expense. However, you can prepare for such an emergency by checking your insurance plan.
Insurance companies can only cover the expenses of hospitals in their network. Take note of these medical facilities in your area to ensure financial assistance from insurance.
Visit the insurance company’s website or contact them for more information. They can help you understand the terms and conditions of your health insurance plan.
Of course, money management plays an important role in emergency preparedness. Good personal finance management can help you put funds aside in times of urgent need.
Most importantly, it helps you manage other aspects of your daily life. Financial literacy can help you effectively manage credit card debt, student loans, and everyday expenses.
Check the Internet for useful financial advice. Most of them are free, so even learning financial literacy is a big hit!
Medical debts have a huge impact on the country and its people. If you are struggling with unpaid hospital bills, you might run into them as well.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to settle your outstanding medical balance. You could dispute your billing or negotiate a better payment plan.
On the other hand, you could seek help from private and public health programs. Most importantly, develop proper money management skills to prepare for emergencies.