Many clients who come to discuss their financial hardships are a result of unforeseen medical debts. Many times, a simple slip and fall accident results in unexpected medical expenses or time off from work without pay. A recent study by Urban Institute report stated that nationally, almost 24 percent of non-elderly Americans have past-due medical debt as of 2015. In Alabama, the percentage is 30 percent compared to the national rate of 23.8 percent.
Past Due Medical Debt in Alabama
In 2012, Alabama had 33.3 percent so the study shows there has been a decrease. The study does not speculate on why the level of debt dropped but did point out another study conducted in 2016 that looked at the relationship between Medicaid Expansion and financial security. States that expanded Medicaid saw a reduction in the amount of total debt that went into collection. In Alabama, our leadership has not expanded Medicaid which may be why we are still in the higher percentage bracket. Alabama and Mississippi are two of the eight states that are 30 percent or higher with past-due medical debt.
In my practice, past due medical debts create financial instability for a low-income family. The inability to pay a co-pay, having a high deductible or the costs of a prescription necessary to be healthy becomes a choice to make for most low-income families. Common examples are bills are not being paid at all or causing someone to get a high interest pay day loan to get by until their next payday which creates an endless cycle.
Are you struggling with your finances due to medical debts? Please call one of our Bond and Botes offices today for a free consultation to see if we can help you!
Gail Hughes Donaldson is a Managing Partner of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She’s been helping families work through the bankruptcy process since she started with Bond & Botes back in 1993 as a paralegal. Read her full bio here.