'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.
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. After the operation began to receive all invoices. It turned out that the only thing that the insurance covered was my bed in the ward. All because the hospital was not in my insurance network. The bills were hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I had no choice but to file for 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. I did everything from credit cards to consolidation, I just keep paying off one credit card with another interest-free credit card until I can pay off next time, ”added Leclair.
“This is the side of cancer that most people don't understand and don't know, and it never ends. Everything just keeps piling up and piling up, and you're back in debt that you can't believe anymore, ”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.
“Many people, over 60%, file for bankruptcy at least in part because of medical bills. Most of them are insured. It is clear that despite health insurance, many people have costs that are not covered by their insurance, ”said Himmelstein, lead author of Medical Bankruptcy: Still Widespread Despite Affordable Care Law.
In 2018, about every 12 American had no health insurance.
“I have insurance at work, but it has a high payment and deductible. I have to pay $ 450 a month. When you think about living paycheck to paycheck, $ 450 is a lot of money. Some bills are not paid every month, ”said Mary Cross of Detroit, Michigan, who has filed for bankruptcy twice since early 2013 after being hospitalized for pneumonia. She required lung surgery.
“I am struggling to stay afloat due to the fact that I underwent surgery in January this year. I received constant calls from the billing department of the hospital where I had surgery, ”added Cross.
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 shorten my working hours and it became more difficult to pay bills. But in July 2019, I was again admitted to the hospital and fired from my job because I was in the hospital. I lost my insurance. My leg was amputated, which means I still cannot 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 more than $ 400 in medical bills and a disability hearing is waiting for me in at least 000 months. 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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