Thanks to the Affordable Care Act and other programs, more Americans than ever have health insurance. In fact, roughly 92% of people in this country now have coverage.
So, why have half of all U.S. adults say that they have trouble affording their health care, with four out of 10 admitting that they’ve either delayed or outright skipped needed services because they couldn’t afford it?
That’s because medical care is still cost-prohibitive for many, even when you do have insurance. No matter whether you have private insurance, Medicare or something else, you can still find that your medical debts have piled up.
Why medical insurance doesn’t eliminate medical debt
There are numerous reasons why medical insurance doesn’t really protect patients and their families from medical debt. Here are a few:
- Despite charging outrageous monthly premiums, many insurance companies have yearly deductibles before they kick in, and people struggle to pay them.
- Prescription costs keep rising, and people who need multiple prescriptions often find that their co-pays run into the hundreds of dollars each month.
- Patients who end up in an emergency room may find that some or all of the services they receive aren’t deemed “medically necessary” by the insurance company, leaving them to cover the bill.
- Dental and vision care are often not included in regular health insurance, leaving patients to foot the cost for very expensive treatments on their own.
- A trip to a clinic, hospital or doctor’s office can become very expensive if the doctor is not on the health insurance company’s list of “preferred providers.”
It isn’t unusual for medical debt to end up looking like regular debt, either. When faced with a dental emergency, for example, many people will reluctantly pull out their credit cards to pay for the removal of an abscessed tooth – and then struggle to make those payments (at an exorbitant interest rate).
When the medical bills become overwhelming and you don’t know how to cope, it may be time to look into your options for debt relief, including bankruptcy.