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1 in 5 American families have difficulty paying medical bills

Although the statistics are improving incrementally as the economy limps back to a semblance of prosperity, many American families are still feeling the effects of the recession particularly when it comes to outstanding debt. Specifically, a recent study suggests that one in five families in South Carolina and elsewhere across the nation are struggling to pay their outstanding medical bills. These numbers have also been influenced by recent federal health care reform.

 

According to the latest statistics, 20.3 percent of people have difficulty keeping up with medical bills. While this number is down slightly from the 21.7 percent mark it was at in 2011, the numbers are still disappointingly high. The statistics, compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, does not include those over 65 because of their access to Medicare.

With that said, even those people with health care insurance and benefits are feeling the strain. Roughly a quarter of insured people still find it difficult to keep up with their medical expenses. The problem is especially telling for those with serious illnesses like cancer; these individuals are at a greater risk of reaching the end of their financial ropes than comparable healthy individuals.

 

Medical bills can be a crushing burden to those unprepared for them. Even those South Carolina residents who benefit from Obamacare and its associated fiscal support may still find it difficult to keep their heads above water. It is important to remember that many options are available to help restructure medical debt, up to and including a bankruptcy filing that may help to alleviate the fiscal pressure and allow families to return to a more stable financial landscape.

 

Source: NBC News, "1 in 5 struggle to pay medical bills, but it's getting better," Maggie Fox, June 4, 2013

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