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Do you know what one of the highest causes of bankruptcy in America is…….ta da….medical debt!

Do you know that a high percentage of those that went bankrupt due to medical debts actually had health insurance!!

Another ta da!!

I have read conflicting statistics, everything from 2/3’s to half, of all bankruptcies in America are medical related, meaning the majority of the debt was due to medical costs.

So here in the UK, our medical insurance and health care is a part of our taxes and paid that way.

We get sick or fall ill, we go to our GP; we are involved in an accident, we go to the A&E; do we have to pay for these services, yes, out of our taxes that go to the NHS, but we do not pay out of our pockets.

In America, you do.

In America if you are involved in an accident, and are conscious and can speak, the first question you are asked at the A&E (emergency room there in America) is do you have health insurance?

If you do not,, they are supposed to still treat you, but the reality is they may not treat you well, or unless you are dying, you may not get treated quickly.

I wish I was making this stuff up, but I am not.

A very good movie to watch is Michael Moore’s movie ‘Sicko’.  Just watch it.  It scares me more than any horror film, because it is true.

Sometimes it is difficult to get your head around the fact that something we have here and take for granted, people elsewhere may not have; and the fact it can cause major financial hardship.

Even for those that have health insurance.

So even if you have health insurance you could still wind up in major debt and need to go bankrupt????

Yes!

There can be two solid reasons for this:

One reason is that the insurance company denies the claim to pay the bill(s).   They get the bill, and may look for ways to not have to pay it.

Maybe it was a pre-existing condition, maybe you went to the A&E and the doctor who treated you did not phone the insurance company within the allotted time, maybe you did not phone them (as you may have been unconscious).
Either way, they say, no, we are not paying this and you are left with the thousands of dollars (we are in America now remember) owed to the doctor, hospital, etc.

Another reason you could find yourself in major debt due to medical issues and have insurance could be the co-pays associated with some policies.

Some insurance policies only cover a certain amount of costs, say maybe to 20K or less, or even more, 1 million dollars.

Once that amount has been reached, you owe the balance; and in the instance of a major illness or cancer treatments, this can cost much more than a policy will pay, leaving you with a ton of debt.

In some instances the health care policy will have a deductible amount that you need to pay, the first $100, or more, or the policy will only pay 80% of the costs and you owe the remaining 20%.

And 20% of 10K or 20K, does add up.

So now you can see why in America the health care reform act not only is a big deal, but one that affects everyone.

One last little fact about insurance policies, in some instances an insurance company states they will pay what is reasonable and customary for a service provided.

So if the doctor you like and trust with your life, charges $100 for their services, and the insurance company feels that the reasonable and customary fee for this service is $50, you need to cough up (no pun intended) the remaining 50.

Having experienced both sides of this, meaning having lived in America and now the UK, you soon realise it is something to not take for granted.

To fall ill, or be injured, possibly seriously, and then have the insult to injury that you owe a lot of money, is just plain wrong.

How can you ever concentrate on getting better if you have that debt looming, hanging over your head.

And then the collection calls and letters start arriving; you’re hardly back to your healthy self again and you get dealt this stress.

It’s easy to see why bankruptcy does become a strong option.

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