Medical Debt Continues to Mount

Individual or Family Health
Group Health Coverage

Health Insurance MedicaL Debt

Consumers, even those with medical insurance, continue to face rising medical costs. And continue to get deeper into "Medical Debt". There is no surer indicator of this then an alarming result of a recent survey that shows that more and more Americans, even those with health insurance, are increasingly paying for medical bills with credit cards.

Healthcare costs and health insurance costs have risen dramatically in the last ten years. Increasingly in an effort to save money employers are forced to eliminate or cut back on group health insurance benefits, making employees pick up the slack. Often these cut backs are in the form of converting traditional health insurance policies into high-deductible health plans. While these types of plans do provide for more affordable health coverage for both the employer and the employee, they also mean that the covered individuals and their family members have to pay more out of pocket for their healthcare before the health insurance kicks in. This often makes consumers faced with two uncomfortable choices, forgo certain treatments and procedures, or pay for them with high interest credit cards until the deductibles are met. Consumers without any medical coverage do not even have the safety net of an insurance policy that will pay for a medical bill after the deductible amount is achieved, for them often there is no other choice but to pay for fees on their credit cards.

According to the study, both people with and without medical insurance struggle to pay off medical bills. One-quarter of Americans in the survey reported they have outstanding medical bills and difficulties paying them, and nearly two-thirds of those report having medical coverage.

The national survey was conducted by two non-profit organizations, the Access Project and Demos. The study which surveyed over 1100 low to middle income families found that people who included medical bills charged to their credit cards, had much higher overall credit card bills then those who did not use their bank cards to pay for healthcare. Almost 30% of those in the study stated that they had medical charges outstanding as part of their credit card balances, and almost 70% in that group said they had a major medical expenses for which they had to use their credit card in the last three years.

The study also indicated that households with medical debt were far more likely to be called by collection agencies, than those without such indebtedness, and perhaps in the most distressing find in the study it was discovered that use of credit cards to pay for medical bills was almost as prevalent among consumers who had health insurance as those without medical coverage. With those homes without health coverage reporting an average of $14,512.00 in credit card medical debt, and those homes with health insurance reporting $10, 973.00 on average.