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Getting Sick in the United States Can Bankrupt Even a Well-Off Person
The rising cost of healthcare in the United States has been a source of concern for many people. This is because it leads to their inability to meet the costs; thus, people live in fear of getting sick. Most presidential candidates are trying to win the votes and confidence of the public through improved healthcare plans, which shows the gravity of the healthcare cost problem. Unfortunately, the debate on healthcare affects everybody in spite of his or her financial position. The low-income citizens in the United States are receiving most of the attention in the debate on healthcare, which makes the rich or well-off are safe from the unfortunate effects of high cost of healthcare. Getting sick in the United States can bankrupt even the well-off because of the high cost and inadequacy of medical insurance covers.
Because of the rising costs of healthcare in the United States, many families have to pay higher insurance premiums and medical costs, although their covers are being cut back. This presents a problem because families now pay more in terms of insurance contributions yet they get low coverage. The result of this combination is that medical bills pile up for all families increasing the chances of medical debt. This problem, thus, affects both the insured and the uninsured. The accrual of medical debt increases the chances of a person to be sued by healthcare providers for inability to cover the debt. Debt collectors may also be involved in suing the individual to recover money spent on healthcare (Families USA par. 2). Therefore, it may cause bankruptcy to a well-off person because they have to pay higher insurance costs and yet receive reduced medical cover.
Another reason why getting sick may cause poverty even for the well off is that it is not a planned expense. Unlike other forms of debt, medical bills occur without warning and it is beyond the individual’s control (Families USA par. 4). The unplanned expense that occurs when people get sick is involuntary and may run into hefty sums. The problem is compounded with occurrence of long-term illnesses that require persistent and constant medical intervention. These long-term conditions are, in most cases, expensive to treat and may make an already difficult situation worse. Another complication with long-term illnesses is that they may not be covered by medical insurance. Therefore, the patient has to pay out of their pocket for the health services (Families USA par.4). This is a potential cause of bankruptcy for any individual in spite of his or her income. Serious health problems may also require the individual to miss work out of concern for their health. This means their earning is curtailed, thus increasing the difficulty of handling the hefty healthcare bills.
One of the main issues affecting the US housing sector is foreclosures due to inability of people to repay their loans. A study in four states on people going through foreclosures found that more than half of the foreclosures were caused by the medical crisis. On a national level, this puts about 1.5 million Americans at the risk of losing their homes annually due to medical bills (Robertson, Egelhof and Hoke 67). The problem with foreclosures is that they can wipe out an individual’s savings because the cost of taking a mortgage is as high as that of getting out of it. This means that an individual who loses a house because of medical bills is left owing a huge debt for a house that he/she no longer owns (Robertson, Egelhof and Hoke 67). The fact that the medical procedure may not have been completed means the problem is compounded. Moreover, the individual is left with depleted savings, a mortgage to pay, and poor health. This combination of problems predisposes an individual to bankruptcy in spite of the financial position before the illness. The study conducted by Robertson, Egelhof and Hoke found that 19% of the respondents who had medical foreclosure were considering or had declared bankruptcy (92).
Finally, for a large number of the people who filed for bankruptcy in the US in 2005, medical costs were the biggest contributor and the main component this debt is the out of pocket medical costs. Most of the people affected by this problem are from middle class with average income. These people have good jobs, homes, and adequate savings. But the problem of underinsurance and reduced coverage results in out of pocket expenses that is just too much for them (Warren par. 3).
What these issues present is a worrying trend in the United States, where individuals are unable to cover their medical expenses. This is contributed by the high cost of medicalcare in the country and declining medical insurance coverage. These individuals opt to file for bankruptcy in order to protect themselves from their creditors. The other thing that most people do not realize is that even the well-off are affected grately by the problem. Getting sick in the United States, therefore, increases the chances of bankruptcy even for the well-off who have good jobs, insurance, and are even home owners. The policy makers should consider trend and come up with innovative ways to ensure that individuals are protected from this risk by revolutionizing healthcare. Medical coverage for long term illnesses, as well as would be highly effective in reducing this effect. Since the main cause of bankruptcy is the out of pocket expenses, public medical insurance should be funded enough to enable increased coverage and give Americans a choice in the purchase of medical insurance.