The Burden Of Healthcare Debt Can Effect Families

Healthcare Debt

According to the medical bills survey conducted by New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, the consequences of medical debts can not only affect the health of the debtor but can also have a significant adverse impact on their families as well. According to the survey conducted on Americans within the age group of 18 64 years it was found that:

  • 44% of all respondents reported that they faced problems in paying medical bills
  • About 47% of the respondents said that the medical bills as well as their existing debts have a significant impact on their families as well
  • On the other hand a low number that amounted to only 7% of the total number of respondents said that they felt no significant impact on their lives and families when it comes to paying off the medical bills and debts.

The survey further showed that people who had adequate insurance protection did not face such issues regarding medical debts and bills. However, it showed that once these problems start to creep in the consequences they experienced are very much similar to those people who did not have adequate or any type of health insurance.

The study showed that those people who faced medical bill and debt problems that impacted the lives of their families are almost similar in shares:

  • 44% of insured people and
  • 45% of the uninsured people.

On the other hand and surprisingly, the study showed that among those people who faced problems in paying off medical bills and debts, the people who fall into the higher income group almost faced similar problems and impact in their life and health as those people earning lower incomes with only a slight and negligible difference.

Another significant finding of the survey showed that, the medical bill and debt problems that the people faced varied according to the amount of bill or debts they carried.

  • It also showed that 66% people faced problems in paying bills of about $5,000 or more
  • 57% people having disability and
  • 56% people said they could not meet their basic expenses due to the medical bills and debts.

The study also considered the people with private health insurance separately when it comes to paying off their medical debts and bills. It was found after the completion of the survey that:

  • The people having private health insurance of high deductible plans constituted about 49% and
  • The people having lower deductible plans made only 35% when the impact of medical bills on their lives is considered.

When the bill value of such impacts were considered it was found that even a lower bill value of about $2,500 had a significant difference in  impacts on insured people such as:

  • 64% with high deductible plans and
  • 40% with low deductible plans.

In a nutshell, all these facts and findings of the study points towards one thing: anyone having medical bills f any amount, whether is insured or uninsured will feel the impact of it in their lives, health, relationship, finance management and even in the lives of their families. Few take on new loans from banks and other online sources such as and others to deal with the rising pressure while other continue to face the wrath seeing no ray of home in the deep, dark debt tunnel.

The sacrifices made

To deal with medical debt and bills, all people make different types of sacrifices. These sacrifices include making significant changes in their lifestyle, employment, and financial situation.

  • 70% said they cut back their household expenses including clothing, food and other household items
  • 72% says they delay their vacations
  • 59% say they have used up all or almost all of their savings simply to pay their medical bills
  • 41% said that they or someone in their family had to work for more hours to take up an extra job to meet with their medical bills and debts
  • 37% borrowed extra money from different banks or even from their friends, family and coworkers
  • 34% had to use their credit cards and thereby raise their debt balances
  • About 26% admitted of taking money from their college, retirement fund or any other long term savings account
  • 17 % changed their living conditions
  • 15% took a different type of loan
  • 13% borrowed money from a payday lender
  • 12% sought help and relief from a charity or any non-profit organization and
  • About 2% took out a second mortgage on their homes.

Another worrying factor is that, while considering the impact of medical debt it is seen that the people who are insured are more badly hit in comparison to the uninsured. When compared it is seen that:

  • 77% of insured persons against 64% uninsured put off vacations
  • 75% against 62% hold back big household purchases and curb on their spending on food, clothing and other rudimentary household items
  • 63% versus 51% have used up most or all of their savings
  • 38% against 24% has raised their credit card debt
  • 31% as compared to 17% of the uninsured have taken out their money from long term savings just to pay their medical bills.

It is only in the case of making changes in the living conditions that the uninsured people seen to have a more severe impact than the insured which is 23% to 14%.

In addition to the above, the study also showed that there are about 15% of respondents also made other significant changes in their lives and lifestyle in order to deal with their medical debts. These are:

  • Living in apartments instead of a house
  • Not buying groceries for a few weeks
  • Reducing expenses in health acre
  • Postpone repairs and maintenance of their homes
  • Selling all unnecessary things
  • Making compromises with kid’s wishes and even
  • Lose their house.

These figures, no matter how small it is, are very alarming, reflecting the severe impact that medical bills and debts leave on people’s lives. The most worrying factor is that this impact and sacrifices are made by people from all walks of life whether they are insured, uninsured or facing precarious financial conditions.

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Rudy Mawer is a certified sports nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). He has a first class bachelor's degree in Exercise, Nutrition and Health and a Master's degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science. Rudy has worked as a sports nutritionist and trainer for 7 years and has helped hundreds of people transform their physiques. He has worked with many professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, professional bodybuilders, world triathlon gold medalists, and Hollywood celebrities. Rudy bridges the gap between science and real-world application. He applies the latest research into his writing and consulting practices.


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