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'Now I live on the street': how medical bills bust insured Americans

One in six Americans has an unpaid health bill in their credit report. The total amount is $ 81 billion. In 2018, approximately every 12-th American did not have health insurance. But even those who have it are not protected from huge debt due to medical bills, writes The Guardian.

Фото: Depositphotos

Susanne Leclair of WestPalm Beach, Florida, was first diagnosed with cancer. She is still struggling with this diagnosis. Now, like many other Americans facing life-threatening illnesses, a woman went bankrupt, despite having health insurance.

Prior to her first cancer operation, the hospital said they had taken her health insurance from her employer.

“I paid 300 dollars. After the operation, she began to receive all invoices. It turned out that the only thing that insurance covered was my bed in the ward. All due to the fact that the hospital was not in the network of my insurance. The accounts were hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I had no choice but to declare bankruptcy, ”Leclair said.

On the subject: How to be treated in the US and get paid for it

Now Leclair is on the verge of filing bankruptcy for the second time. All because of the growing medical debt that she accumulated after additional operations related to cancer, regular medical appointments, medicines and supplies. And all this despite the availability of medical insurance.

“My medical bills are 52 000 dollars. I’ve done everything from credit cards to consolidation, I just continue to pay debts on one credit card with another interest-free, until I can pay the next time, ”added Leclair.

“This is the side of cancer that most people do not understand and do not know, and it never ends. Everything just continues to accumulate and accumulate, and you are again in debt that you can no longer believe in, ”she added.

On the subject: Medicine in the USA: expensive and even more expensive

Bankruptcy can also make it difficult to find a job, given that many employers will disqualify a candidate for bankruptcy. This is easy to determine when checking data.

According to research published in February 2019, about 530 000 bankruptcies are filed annually due to debt due to illness. The study found that even the Obama administration’s affordable health care law (known as Obamacare) was unable to change the proportion of bankruptcies caused by medical debt, and poor health insurance was named one of the main culprits.

Republicans and Democrats currently disagree with the Trump administration's plans to further weaken Obamacare: it's about making it easier for states to waive certain requirements and offer cheaper insurance plans that could make things worse. Health insurance has become one of the characteristic problems ahead of the 2020 election of the year. Democrats, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, promise a complete revision of the system, while Joe Biden and others are talking about milder reforms. the parties acknowledge that the current system is not working.

Фото: Depositphotos

“Many people, more than 60%, file for bankruptcy at least partially because of medical bills. Most of them are insured. It’s clear that despite medical insurance, many people incur expenses that are not covered by their insurance, ”said Himmelstein, lead author of the study“ Medical Bankruptcy: Still Widespread Despite the Affordable Health Care Act. ”

On the subject: What I learned about medicine in the United States when I got insurance

In 2018, about every 12 American had no health insurance.

“I have insurance at work, but she has a high payment and deductible. I have to pay 450 dollars a month. When you think about living from paycheck to paycheck, 450 dollars is a lot of money. Some bills are not paid each month, ”said Mary Cross of Detroit, Michigan, who has filed for bankruptcy twice since the beginning of 2013 after hospitalization due to pneumonia. She needed a lung operation.

“I am struggling to stay afloat because I underwent surgery in January this year. I was constantly called from the billing department at the hospital where I had the surgery, ”Cross added.

In Savannah, Georgia, an 35-year-old man who asked to remain anonymous recently turned out to be homeless and unemployed due to his long hospital stay and hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical debt.

For many years he has type 1 diabetes. Due to problems with the regulation of blood sugar in April 2019, the toes of the man were amputated.

“I had to reduce working hours and pay bills has become more difficult. But in July of 2019, I was again admitted to the hospital, and I was fired from work because I was in the hospital. I lost my insurance. My leg was amputated, which means I still can’t work, ”he said.

He is currently working on an attempt to declare bankruptcy in order to close the medical debt that he received after amputations.

“I have accumulated over 400 000 dollars of medical bills, and a disability hearing is waiting for me at least 6 months later. I owe all this money, I lost my house, now I live on the street, and there is no end in sight, ”he said.

Previously ForumDaily писал about what happens to debts and loans after death in the United States.

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