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Could the proposed health bill lead to more medical debt?

Many Washington residents are aware that the United States Senate is currently considering a new version of the health care bill. The proposed legislation has led to a great deal of debate, as well as concern about how a new system might affect their families. Some experts believe that if the new version passes as written, more people could be vulnerable to high levels of medical debt, and could pay a serious price in terms of their financial and physical health.

One of the biggest concerns involves sizable proposed cuts to Medicaid. That could leave as many as 15 million people left out of the program by the year 2026. If those individuals are unable to secure health coverage elsewhere, then they could encounter staggering levels of medical debt when they fall ill or become injured.

Medicaid is the single largest health insurer in the United States, covering approximately 74 million people who fall into the low-income classification. Under the administration of President Obama, Medicaid was expanded and funded with additional federal dollars. The new administration has pledged to dismantle that expansion, and the currently proposed legislation would move toward that goal.

For those in Washington who are already facing serious levels of medical debt, changes to the law may seem like a concern that is easy to ignore. Living under a heavy burden of debt is a challenge, and can even lead to negative health consequences related to high levels of stress. Personal bankruptcy offers a path out of heavy debt, but for individuals who are unable to secure good health insurance through their employer or on the open market, legislative changes could spell out trouble for the years to come.

Source: Time, "The Senate Health Care Bill Could Lead to More Personal Bankruptcies", Jennifer Calfas, June 26, 2017

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