Monday, October 16th, 2017

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Insurance Not Enough to Prevent Debt

Insurance often is not enough to prevent financial problems when medical expenses pile up.Recent medical reforms emphasized the huge number of Americans who lack any kind of insurance. A new study from the University of Arizona points out that people can face incredible difficulty even with insurance.

Patricia Herman, a researcher at the University of Arizona’s College of Pharmacy, looked to follow up on recent studies that found medical bills can prove problematic even for insured Americans. Her study looked at information on 2,300 Arizonans between the ages of 18 and 64, before they gained access to Medicare.

Herman used statistical tools to control for the impact of age, income and health status, but found that insurance itself does not lower the likelihood of taking on debt from medical bills. Continuity proved important, with gaps in coverage more than doubling the likelihood of problems paying bills. Overall, insurance decreased the likelihood of delaying treatment, but did less than many might hope in actually covering the expense.

The issue becomes even more important with the release of the latest financial security survey from Bankrate.com. Only 24 percent of Americans have enough saved to cover six months of expenses and the same proportion have no savings at all, making unexpected medical costs potentially catastrophic.

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