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Medical debt can mean higher credit card bills

The Affordable Care Act had a small success alleviating some of the hefty medical bills carried by people in Washington. Still, many people remain burdened by impossibly huge amounts of medical debt. Experts have pinpointed different areas of medical care that tend to produce the highest bills even with medical insurance.

Out-of-pocket costs and co-pays are large contributors to the medical debt problem. These costs do not necessarily affect people equally, as only 12 percent of individuals in a survey required a hospital stay; of those, 56 percent experienced a significant contribution to their medical debt from these events. The same was true for emergency room visits, which only 13 percent of responders had experienced, but 57 percent of whom then struggled with related bills.

While medical bills alone are often enough to put patients in financially compromised positions, they also face another downside of carrying around this type of debt. Households with significantly more medical debt tend to carry more credit card debt than their peers without serious medical bills. These households also need to purchase basic necessities -- such as groceries and rent -- with credit cards more often.

Being admitted to the hospital is often a rude awakening for Washington patients, when many people realize that becoming sick tends to lead to financial insecurity. For some, bankruptcy is a viable option for clearing away medical debt that is placing an undue burden on them and their families. When these types of debts are successfully cleared, most people can begin to rebuild the financial structure of their lives.

Source: salon.com, "The medical debt crisis: The prognosis is still dire for Americans struggling to pay off massive health care bills", Sean McElwee, Aug. 14, 2016

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