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Medical debt is the new American 'normal'

Statistics can be hard to grasp until they are practically applied. On face, the statistic of “33 percent” means nothing unless it is applied. However, if someone scores 33 percent on a test, that individual has earned the letter grade of “F.” If a certain brand of meat carries a 33 percent risk of contamination, you are almost certainly not going to eat it. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 33 percent of Americans admit to having difficulties paying their medical bills.

One out of every three people is not a majority of Americans. However, when one out of every three Americans report that they find it difficult or impossible to pay their medical bills, this trend signals that overwhelming medical debt has essentially become the new normal in the U.S. It is therefore relatively unsurprising to learn that medical debt is now the number one reason why Americans file for personal bankruptcy. A staggering 62 percent of personal bankruptcy filers cite medical bills as the primary reason for their claims.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 28 million Americans have currently exhausted the balances in their savings accounts in order to pay for medical care. And when individuals struggling with medical debt exhaust their savings, they often are compelled to start running up large credit card debts to pay for both their medical bills and everyday necessities.

Statistics can be difficult to comprehend until they are practically applied. But the fact that 33 percent of Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills means that you are not alone if you are struggling as well. Please, if your debt has become overwhelming do not be ashamed. Instead, speak to an experienced attorney who may be able to help you navigate a solution.

Source: Roll Call, “Medical Debt: The New Norm for Patients in America,” Nancy Davenport-Ennis, April 30, 2014

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