The U.S. Census Bureau’s data revealed that many U.S. households had trouble affording medical care. As noted on Census.gov, almost 20% of the respondents to a 2017 survey admitted that they could not pay the initial costs to receive treatment when they needed it.
In the Census Bureau’s 2018 survey, nearly 25% of the households without the ability to afford their upfront health care expenses were those with minors under 18. These households had a greater chance of carrying high debt loads related to their health care needs.
Unpaid medical bills may lead to serious financial issues
As noted by Credit Karma, federal law requires hospital emergency rooms to treat patients regardless of their inability to pay upfront. Even with health insurance, some individuals may not have the cash for deductibles and co-pays. They may instead choose to pay their medical bills with credit cards.
Because of the time off needed to recover from an emergency hospital stay or procedure, unsecured medical and credit card debts could pile up. Some individuals may have also fallen behind by taking a leave of absence from work so they could care for an ill child or spouse.
Unresolved debts may discharge through bankruptcy
Unpaid health care bills generally do not affect credit reports for at least 180 days. This grace period, however, may not provide enough time to catch up on all outstanding bills. Those households that used credit cards to pay their regular expenses during a medical recovery may face even greater debt loads.
Texas residents may consider filing for bankruptcy to help take control of their unmanageable debts. Filing a petition requires listing all secured and unsecured debts for the court to review. Based on a household’s current income and assets, bankruptcy may result in discharging many unpaid bills in about three to six months.