Americans just can’t seem to get a grip on paying their mortgages or credit card bills due to outstanding medical charges. Even with health insurance supplementing the costs, medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S., reports CNBC.
Unpaid medical bills are expected to drive nearly two million Americans to file for bankruptcy this year, a study by NerdWallet Health said. The findings also show that 56 million people — 20 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 19 and 64 — will find financial hardship due to healthcare costs.
While most people assume credit card debt is the primary culprit behind bankruptcies, the towering debt is actually caused by skyrocketing health costs. “More than 11 million people will take on additional credit-card debt to cover mounting medical bills, ” CNBC added.
NerdWallet found that 10 million Americans will not be able to cover food, rent, and utilities due to these medical expenses.
As MN recently reported, 25 percent of African Americans found that paying to stay healthy was a struggle; they could not afford the prescription drugs they needed. While health care plans should remove some financial burdens, it turns out that insurance coverage does not alleviate the stress. “The annual family of four—with employer-paid health insurance—annually spends more on medical bills than groceries,” that article said.
Insurance policies with high-deductible health plans take a toll on Americans as they require consumers to pay out-of-pocket more frequently. “With an average American family bringing home $50,000 in income, a high medical bill and a high-deductible insurance plan can quickly become something they are unable to pay,” said Christina LaMontagne, vice president of NerdWallet Health.
Mike Jackson, an African-American man afflicted with high blood pressure and diabetes accumulates a bill of $500 a month, NPR said. Jackson was laid off from his job and lost his health benefits. He was once taking 60 units of insulin to control his diabetes, but now he must settle for 30 units a day to cut prescription costs. However, the cutback caused problems. “Jackson developed numbness in his foot, toes, and nerve damage in his eye—all complications of uncontrolled diabetes,” NPR added.
“It’s one of those things where, if something happens to my car or to me healthwise, I’m in trouble,” Jackson said.
Many Americans swamped in health care bills share in Jackson’s sentiments when he stated, “If anything goes wrong, I’m one step away from disaster.”