Why are so many U.S. bankruptcies traceable to high medical expenses?
Although even more extravagant claims have been made, it is estimated that U.S. indebtedness as many as three out of five bankruptcies in this country are attributable to medical calamities. Many countries have no bankruptcies resulting from high costs. Clearly, our healthcare program is still in dire need of improvement. Not only are we plagued by our citizens being thrown into debt because of their inability to pay high medical bills, but this is occurring at the same time as an estimated 25 million Americans cut back on their medications in order to manage their finances. These two facets of the problem are likely connected because those who don’t stick to their medication regimens often get sicker and require more expensive emergency treatments and surgeries.
Unfortunately, even with President Obama’s universal health insurance, it is expected that 10 million Americans will have higher medical expenses than they are able to pay. Obviously, having insurance isn’t solving the problem. High co-pays and inflated medication costs both exacerbate the problem.
At what age are people most likely to file for bankruptcy as a result of healthcare costs?
While one might expect the highest number of medically related bankruptcies to occur among our oldest citizens, this is not the case. Bankruptcies due to medical costs hit hardest in the 35-44 age bracket, where they affect nearly 30 percent of those filing. One of the reasons that senior citizens are protected from bankruptcy, even in the face of catastrophic illness, is that the older population qualifies for Medicare.
Complex Reasons for Bankruptcy
Of course the reasons for bankruptcy filings are complex. Even where causes of overwhelming debt are tied into medical fees, these causes are intertwined with loss of income and nursing and childcare expenses, among other factors. To add to the complications, The NY Times reports that, while 29 percent of people with high medical bills have been forced to stop working or drastically cut back on hours, 41 percent of those questioned stated that they had taken on extra work to help pay the extraordinarily high medical bills. When bankruptcy filings are in process, however, obviously the extra work is not solving the problem.
If you find yourself confronting the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, it is essential that you consult a skilled and experienced bankruptcy attorney to assist you in evaluating your options. A knowledgeable attorney will also be able to help you choose the right path and guide you through all the bureaucratic paperwork involved in the process.
Medical Bills Are the Biggest Cause of US Bankruptcies: Study
Bankruptcies resulting from unpaid medical bills will affect nearly 2 million people this year—making health care the No. 1 cause of such filings,