Each day, more and more Americans add unaffordable medical debt to their list of financial challenges. For example, in the case of our own financial counseling provider, Accel, in 2008 more than 15,000 of their counseling clients claimed medical issues were at the root of their financial difficulties. And their challenges were significant. More than 30% of the people in this group had past-due medical bills to deal with. It’s a problem for the employed and unemployed alike. While many jobless folks struggle to afford health insurance and even individual doctor visits, those fortunate enough to have insurance are being burdened by additional expenses associated with healthcare coverage cutbacks and rising medical costs.
According to U.S. News and World Report, 41% of working-age Americans—72 million people—reported having trouble paying off medical debts in 2007, though most were insured at the time care was given. Of course, it’s impossible to predict if and when you might have unexpected medical costs, but careful planning and diligent budgeting can help eliminate a lot of the pain that results from medical debt, while helping you ensure medical bills don’t cause additional financial hardships.