The People’s Lawyer

Medical debt ravaging working-age adults

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2020 | Uncategorized

Readers of our blog are often looking for information and help. For many West Virginians, they may be dealing with medical debt, especially if they are working-age adults. In fact, the Commonwealth Fund’s biennial health insurance survey found medical debt raving this group.

The Commonwealth Fund’s Biennial Health Insurance Survey

The survey was conducted from the beginning of the year until June. It was done over both cellphone and landline. The study surveyed 4,000 working-age adults.

Most starkly, the study found that over 40% of working-age adults faced unstable healthcare coverage. As a result, over 30% faced medical debt. These working-age adults fell into the coverage gap, were underinsured or just not insured at all.

Of those surveyed, nearly 10% had income that disqualified them from both Medicaid and subsidies from the Affordable Care Act. Over 20% were underinsured, which meant they faced high out-of-pocket expenses and high deductibles. Finally, over 12% were uninsured, facing the full brunt of medical expenses alone.

What’s Behind the Numbers?

Many West Virginians and those throughout the U.S. are employed with small or medium sized businesses. Even more get their insurance through employer-sponsored healthcare plans. Unfortunately, many of these plans, especially those working in small or medium sized businesses have high deductibles.

High deductibles mean that all medical expenses are paid by the insured, not the insurance, until that deductible is met, which could be thousands of dollars. These deductibles can take upwards of 5% or more of one’s income.

The Consequences of Unstable Healthcare Coverage: Medical Debt

Often, those with a high deductible plan, will avoid doctor’s visits until absolutely necessary. Even if their exams may have been covered as a free yearly checkup, the huge potential costs keeps them out of the office. This means that when they do end up at the doctor, their medical conditions may have worsened, ballooning potential medical bills. This is the exact same situation that uninsured people find them in.

This is why 50% of those underinsured and uninsured have medical debt that they are struggling to pay. And, the consequences of this medical debt is real: obliterated credit ratings, zapped savings accounts and struggling to pay for basic necessities.

When one finds themselves in such a dire financial strait though, there are options. Specifically, bankruptcy. The term might seem scary, but it offers a path out of debt.