Arizona residents face challenges paying medical bills

According to research by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, one out of every three Americans struggles to pay medical bills. Even if someone has insurance, it does not protect them from accruing large amounts of medical debt. In fact, based on in information from the study, the majority of Americans who are struggling to pay these bills are insured, mostly continuously and through group plans offered by their employer.

Researchers discovered that a wide range of individuals of varying income levels and ages can end up with medical debt that they have problems managing. Amounts of unmanageable debt ranged from just a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000, and those with chronic problems are often at greater risk of ending up struggling to pay because of their frequent need to seek medical attention.

The reason that so many people with health insurance end up racking up so much debt is that insurance does not cover 100 percent of medical costs. Many plans have deductibles that individuals must pay before coverage kicks in, and not all procedures are covered, adding to out-of-pocket expenses. Unsurprisingly, once people fall behind on their payments, they often struggle to catch up, and those with overwhelming medical debt often have problems affording even basic necessities.

For people who have gotten behind on paying their bills and cannot seem to catch up, filing for bankruptcy may be an option. Bankruptcy offers either the discharge of debt or the restructuring of it, giving individuals the ability to regain control of their finances. Since bankruptcy does not cover all types of debt, including some student loans and child support payments, someone considering this option may benefit from the information a bankruptcy attorney could provide.

Source: Albuquerque Business First, "The many faces of medical debt", Dennis Domrzalski, January 13, 2014

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