U.S. Health Care Debt is Widespread: 100 Million People Struggle
Please read our letter to the editor, watch the video, listen to the NPR broadcast, and read the article to learn about pervasive financial debt in the U.S. Even when people are insured, the high cost of services, medications, and high deductible insurance policies combine to create an impossible situation for many.
Letter to the Editor - Our $100 Million Problem
A nationwide poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that Americans owe 100 million dollars in medical debts. Twenty-five percent of families owe $5,000 or more and 20% say they won't be able to pay off their debt. Even families with insurance often find that accidents or emergency care may overwhelm their resources.
Medical debt causes families to cut spending for food and other essentials (63%), use up all their savings (48%), and to declare bankruptcy (17%). It also often prevents them from getting health care - even urgent care.
There are many causes for this debt: "surprise" billing by out-of- network providers, insurance with high deductibles, excessive price hikes for prescription drugs and just the high cost of treatment in our country with the world's most expensive health care system. As one expert says: "We have a health care system almost perfectly designed to create debt."
Some states have tried to address this problem by forbidding credit reporting companies from including medical debt on credit scores because that can prevent someone from buying a car or a home even when their credit is otherwise good.
Let's encourage states to adopt fairer credit policies (as above). We can also advocate for national policies to curb rapid inflation of medical and drug costs. Tell your senators to support the bill to help lower drug prices and extend and increase health insurance under the ACA. Ask them to support the "Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" today.
Committee member of Health Care Forum
Progressive Action for the Common Good
Read the published letter here.
Video: New research says 100 million in U.S. saddled with debt from health care
Kaiser Health News Article: https://khn.org/news/article/diagnosis-debt-investigation-100-million-americans-hidden-medical-debt/