Medical debt drives Atlanta women into bankruptcy
According to recent data from the Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit that advocates for health care reform, more than a quarter of women in Georgia and across the U.S. had trouble paying their medical bills in 2009-2010. That is more than double the rates in any of the 10 other countries studied, indicating that medical debt is driving more U.S. women into difficult financial situations than in other similar nations.
Certainly, many men also face increasing rates of un- and under-insurance. A study conducted by the same organization last fall found that the number of uninsured adults increased by a staggering 80 percent from 2003 to 2010. Other recent studies have found that medical bills were the driving force behind 60 percent of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings made in the U.S. in 2009. It is difficult to believe that those two statistics are not correlated.
However, they say, women are more likely to face bankruptcy or other serious debt problems as a result of medical issues. This is because women use more health services than men, especially in their child-bearing years, and they generally have lower incomes than men.
The study also revealed that:
- About 18.7 million women in the United States were uninsured in 2010, which is a 15 percent increase from a decade earlier;
- An additional 17.7 million women were underinsured, which means that they would still face substantial out-of-pocket medical costs if they became ill;
- Nearly 45 percent of survey participants went without medical care or medication that they needed because they could not afford to pay for it; and
- About half of the respondents said they were not confident that they could pay their medical bills if they became seriously ill in the future.
It is expected that the Affordable Care Act will lower many of these numbers when it takes full effect in 2014. Hopefully, that helps to place all Americans into a better financial situation.
Source: NBC News Vitals, “Medical bills drive many U.S. women into debt, report finds,” Maggie Fox, July 13, 2012