A recent survey found that medical debt continues to weigh on the shoulders of millions of consumers, according to a column in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News. Last year, 41 percent of adults ages 19 to 64 said that they had problems paying medical bills or were paying off medical debt over time, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that promotes improvements in the health care system. Twenty-nine percent of those paying off medical bills said they were carrying more than $4,000 in debt, and 16 percent reported $8,000 or more in medical debt. Gaps in health insurance, inadequate coverage and large medical bills have left millions with medical debt, said Sara Collins, vice president of Affordable Health Insurance at the Commonwealth Fund. The Affordable Care Act, which goes into full effect next year, has improved the situation somewhat, she said. In particular, a provision that allows adult children to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until they are age 26 has had an impact. Another bill currently being considered in Congress, the “Medical Debt Responsibility Act,” would prohibit credit bureaus from using paid-off or settled medical debt collections in determining a consumer’s creditworthiness. The bureaus also would have 45 days from the date the medical debt collection is paid off or settled to expunge the collection from the consumer’s credit report
Medical Debt Bankrupting Millions
About the Author: William Morris
William A. Morris is a Denver bankruptcy lawyer and trial attorney with three decades of bankruptcy and trial experience.