In 2013, medical debt affected almost 2 million people, making it the top cause of bankruptcy in the US. Even outside of bankruptcy situations, nearly 56 million adults will continue to battle medical debt. That is more than 20% of the population between the ages of 19 and 64. Even with health insurance, Americans cannot always avoid this common cause of serious debt.
Medical debt can build up in different ways. Sometimes a major injury or illness causes a person to accumulate a lot of bills very quickly. But smaller bills for more routine healthcare can also add up over time. In fact, 53% of unpaid medical bills in the US are for amounts of $600 or less.
This is a problem for people from all walks of life, but people of color have been especially impacted. 31% of Black Americans report having unpaid medical bills, compared to 23% of non-Hispanic White Americans. This is largely due to racial inequality in income and accumulated wealth.
Does Obamacare help?
While a substantial number of Americans have reported major concerns about paying for healthcare without insurance, more and more Americans continue to worry about being able to afford health insurance itself. Even with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Americans struggle to pay medical bills.
The PPACA, or “Obamacare,” was developed to help make insurance more affordable for Americans who have middle to low incomes. The Act requires all Americans to have current health insurance, or they have to pay penalties. The law has affected Medicaid eligibility in some states, and helps some Americans who fall below the federal poverty level.
But since its launch, many Americans have reported mixed emotions about whether it is helping to combat the rising costs of medical debt. In fact, bankruptcy has become a common solution for those who are struggling with personal and medical debt issues.
Debt is negotiable
Remember that even if you suffer from the stress of too much medical debt, there is hope. While the laws concerning healthcare and health insurance are hotly debated, there are debt assistance programs available to help negotiate debt and assist with consolidating your bills. Consider a low or no-interest loan to help consolidate your medical debt.
If you struggle with medical debt, you may qualify for a loan that offers flexible terms and low or no interest rates. However, be aware of predatory lending operations. Some quick loans can charge up to 400% APR, which could defeat the purpose of saving money by consolidating your medical debt.
Medical debt consolidation loans can help organize your debt and reduce your overhead so you may be able to avoid filing for bankruptcy. If you don’t qualify for an interest-free loan, look for low interest rates that range between 4.0% and 14.0% to help keep your finances lower and consult a financial expert before considering bankruptcy as a solution.