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Affordable Care Act not the panacea for medical debt

Even though millions of Americans are now able to access health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, new reports show that the health care plans may still contribute to medical debt because of high deductibles. Those seeking debt relief through lower-end plans, such as bronze or silver options, may find that their deductibles range from about $3,000 to $5,000, costs that may still be burdensome for many Americans. A deductible is the amount of money that must be paid before the insurance begins to cover qualifying medical costs.

Even though annual out-of-pocket maximums for medical care are capped at $12,700 for families and half that amount for individuals, sticker shock is still an increasing concern for American citizens. Medical debt plays an important role in national bankruptcy statistics; it is still unclear whether this will change with the implementation of the ACA. Most Americans do not have $3,000 readily available to cover unexpected medical costs, according to recent research.

Further, analysts say that some patients may not be able to benefit from a fresh start because of increasing deductibles for prescription drugs. Medication and medical care are increasingly being split apart in insurance policies, and drug costs do not apply to medical plan deductibles in all cases. Although the ACA provides an important safety net, it may not solve all of the financial problems that plague Washington residents at this time.

Patients who are concerned about their growing medical bills may benefit from the assistance of a qualified Washington bankruptcy attorney. These professionals can point clients in the direction of important ACA resources while helping them resolve medical debt through bankruptcy and other legal proceedings. Bankruptcy can help eliminate debt, allowing clients to enjoy the fresh financial start they deserve.

Source: USA Today, "Medical debt will persist despite health law" No author given, Jan. 15, 2014

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