It might be hard to remember life ‘before COVID,’ however, one thing is for sure: American citizens were already struggling with debt. Typical household debt was already a challenge for many, further evidenced by historical highs in both household and consumer debt. While some mild warning bells were beginning to sound off, they were not COVID-related until Spring of 2020. Previous to that though, like student loan debt, medical debt was already a huge concern for millions in the US.
Generally viewed as the leading cause of bankruptcy, medical debt has been an ongoing issue for decades—similar to student loan debt in that so many individuals are burdened with debt that may seem impossible to pay off in one lifetime. After COVID, however, many survivors the viral pandemic are dealing with additional debt they never would have expected.
A recent study showed that outstanding medical bills are higher for patients who were sick with more severe illnesses, and especially if they required medical assistance like ventilator support. In those cases, debts typically climbed into the tens of thousands.
For American citizens without insurance, handling medical debt is extremely difficult, but even with insurance, understanding co-pays, deductibles, what’s covered, and what’s not covered can be very confusing. It may vary from state to state too.
“People who have insurance that they either bought themselves or that they’re getting through an employer that is state regulated. In that case, some states have required that those insurers waive cost sharing for COVID-related treatment,” said Fish-Parcham in a recent interview, adding that “insurers have voluntarily waived cost sharing, and sort of announced that they were waiving cost sharing for COVID related treatment and testing.”
Even more, the only patients and debtors who are protected from being charged are those who do not have insurance or are covered by Medicaid.
Are you currently worried about delinquencies related to medical debt? Speak with an experienced medical debt attorney as soon as possible. If you are being sued, the situation is even more urgent. Acting quickly regarding a lawsuit is critical to avoid having a default judgment granted against you.