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What factors contribute to the problem of medical debt?

In 2014, a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that approximately 64 million people across the U.S. were grappling with medical debt, according to a USA Today report. Like others in Oregon, you may think mounting health care bills are a problem that are only experienced by those without health insurance. However, that is not necessarily the case. In fact, there are a number of factors that may contribute to the buildup of medical debt, whether you are insured or not.

The cost of health care in the U.S. seems ever-rising. When you go in for a procedure, there are often charges from the facility, the provider and any other medical professionals who assist with your care. If you do not have insurance, these charges can add up and overwhelm quickly. When you are insured, you may still be responsible for all or a portion of the charges. The costs you may incur may be particularly high if you are treated at an out-of-network facility or by a non-network provider.

The charges for health care services can vary greatly from one provider, facility and even state to the next. Sometimes, this may lead to billing mistakes. Consequently, you could be charged the wrong amount or for services you did not receive. If you do not realize a mistake has occurred or while you are attempting to resolve the issue, the debt may remain in your name and could wind up on your credit report.

When it comes to health insurance plans, there are numerous options. You may choose to pay less for your coverage each month, but have a higher deductible and out-of-pocket limits. Or, you may choose to pay higher insurance premiums every month and have lower co-insurance liabilities. With high deductible plans, you must generally pay more up front, before your coverage kicks in. In the case of an emergency or an unexpected illness, you may be unprepared to pay out-of-pocket. This could set you behind, even before all of the charges have been entered.

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