It is so nice to become healthy again after a lagging illness. But the pain goes on when you get your bill from the hospital and doctors. Changes in Washington on health care just aren't going to help and it sure won't help what has already happened.
While the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare or the ACA, has helped increase the numbers of insured, for many, the deductibles have skyrocketed, even those who get insurance through their employers. No one ever anticipates becoming ill but a $5,000 deductible is impossible to take care of by most people. Just ask yourself, do you have $5,000 saved to cover that expense. Not!!
No one expects the emergency to happen but if it does, and you are saddled with the lingering pain, we recommend you do something now before the injury of the medical bill infects your other finances.
The problem by the numbers
Last year, the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a detailed survey to help understand the nature of medical debt in U.S. households. The survey found that for working-age people with medical insurance, one in five reported problems with medical bills in the previous year that "often cause serious financial challenges and changes in employment and lifestyle ..." For the uninsured, this number soars to 53 percent.
Significant numbers of both insured and uninsured people with serious medical-debt problems report having taken these actions in their households:
- Delayed vacations or "major household purchases"
- Cut spending on clothing, food or "basic household items"
- Drained savings accounts
- Worked more hours or took on additional jobs
- Increased the use of credit cards
- Asked relatives or friends for loans
- Used money from retirement, college or other "long-term savings accounts"
What can you do now?
There are options for how to move forward with a lighter medical-debt burden. But just like you saw a doctor for medical help, you need an attorney to address your legal needs. Finding the right plan, just like the right medical treatment, can help you survive. Some of the possibilities include:
- Having an attorney negotiate a medical debt settlement with medical creditors. Sometimes there are tax consequences for doing this. Be mindful of all of the side effects, just like in prescriptions.
- Entering into a payment plan, usually with reasonable monthly payments, an alternative many medical providers will consider. Dave Ramsey approach putting yourself on "rice and beans" to make it all work.
- Selling assets and using the proceeds to pay down medical debt
- Filing for bankruptcy to maintain financial control and avoid the garnishments.
The long and short version of all of this is: there are ways to solve the lingering pain from your last medical crises and hospitalization. Don't let that infect your financial health. Do something about it now before it festers out of control. Call and set an appointment.