Many affected by the pandemic are now inundated by medical debt


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(HealthDay): Coronavirus pandemic has left many Americans saddened by medical bills they can’t pay, a new survey reveals.

More than 50 percent of those infected with COVID-19 or who lost income due to the pandemic now have problems with medical debt, according to researchers at The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates high performance. .

“The good news of the report is that losses during the pandemic may have been offset by federal efforts to help people obtain and maintain their insurance coverage, “said Sara Collins, vice president of healthcare coverage and access to The Commonwealth Fund.

“The file is that about a third of Americans continue to fight and medical debt, even those who have it , and doctor the problems were highest among people affected by the pandemic, either by falling ill with COVID-19 or losing income during the pandemic or losing insurance coverage. These people are stuck with big accounts, ”Collins said.

The researchers found that the most affected were blacks and Hispanics, who were more likely to not have affordable health care. What’s worse is that those who suffered most from the COVID-19 pandemic are the most likely to have medical bills and debts.

Adults 19 to 64 who contracted the virus, lost income, or lost work-based health insurance coverage also reported higher medical bill and debt problem rates than people who do not suffer. the pandemic in this way.

“It’s a major issue for the people of the United States, and I think we need to address the changing design of benefits, but also the way we view medical debt,” Collins said.

Frederick Isasi is executive director of U.S. Families, a national consumer health advocacy organization. “This study highlights what we know since the deadliest pandemic wreaked havoc in our country last year: the most vulnerable in our communities have suffered the brunt of the economic and health impact,” he said .

“We need to make sure they have access to the best healthcare they need without having to have a medical debt or having to choose between paying the rent and filling a prescription to save lives,” Isasi added.

Isasi said Congress must pass the Democratic budget resolution and quickly pass a conciliation package that closes the Medicaid expansion coverage gap, says Medicare includes dental, auditory and visual benefits, “… and finally it puts an end to the abusive prices of pharmaceutical companies, so that healthcare is affordable and accessible to everyone. ”

The main findings of the survey include:

  • Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to pay for medical problems and lose income during the pandemic.
  • More than 55% of blacks and about 44% of Hispanics reported problems with medical bills and debt, compared to 32% of whites.
  • More than a third of U.S. adults reported a loss of income during the pandemic. Black and Hispanic Americans and those on low incomes were particularly affected, with 44% of blacks and 45% of Hispanics reporting a loss of income.
  • More than a third of insured adults and half of uninsured adults reported having problems with medical bills or paying medical debt.
  • Among working adults with business coverage, 34% reported a medical bill or problems, as do 46% of adults with individual and market coverage.

The survey was conducted from March 9 to June 8 on about 5,500 U.S. adults ages 19 to 64.

In accordance with US News & World Report, some steps people can take to get help with their medical bills include:

  • Check your medical bills for errors.
  • Negotiate medical bills with the hospital or insurance company.
  • Get help paying medical bills. Some non-profit hospitals may cancel your bills completely.
  • Consider filing for bankruptcy.
  • To understand relief programs. During the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government and some states have ways to help reduce your bills.
  • Contact your state health insurance department to see what they can do to reduce or forgive bills.

The key issue is how health insurance works in the United States, said Dr. Susan Rogers, president of Physicians for a National Health Program.

“Trying to modify it will never make everyone covered, it is not made for that. That’s why I support Medicare for everyone or a single payer, because that’s the only plan that’s made to cover everyone, ”Rogers said.

Despite all the efforts made over the years and the financial difficulties of the , no one has ever done anything to cover everyone, Rogers noted.

“What’s happening now with insurance companies is that they’re just bleeding everyone and it’s just not sustainable. Everything keeps going up, premiums go up, copayments go up, deductibles go up,” he said. “What has happened is that you continue to widen the gap between those who have and those who don’t and that is not sustainable.”

Many Americans struggle to pay for pandemic medical care

More information:
For more information on affordable care in your state, go to The Commonwealth Fund.

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