Are Your Avoiding the Doctor in the Weak Economy?

Submitted by Jen Jones on Sun, 06/12/2011 - 5:57pm

Are Your Avoiding the Doctor in the Weak Economy?

While many financial experts are reporting that the economy is getting healthier by the day, more data is emerging that average Americans are still avoiding seeking healthcare amid fears that bearing more medical costs would break already beleaguered household budgets.

According to a new report from Reuters, this means poor health utilization from many following the extended economic downturn, and more profits for health insurers who are forced to pay less out for services, even as the insured are asked to pay more into the industry.

“Americans' use of medical services has not yet rebounded during the weak economy, health insurers say, in a trend that keeps the companies' costs down and could bolster their profits further this year. Low healthcare utilization was a major reason behind the health insurers posting first-quarter profits well above analyst forecasts earlier this year. The companies have been factoring increases into their pricing for their plans, but executives at an investor conference this week said utilization continued to stay low.”

Not only are higher co-pays keeping folks away from the doctor, but high unemployment is also reducing the demand for medical treatment, as jobless workers who have lost insurance, are forced to either pay higher costs for private insurance or risk exorbitant medical bills in the case of an unexpected illness, accident or injury. “Some analysts have suggested that the lower-than-expected utilization is a more fundamental change rather than a fleeting one. Due to structural changes in healthcare plans over the years, such as higher co-pays and other fees, consumers have steadily borne more of the healthcare costs.”

Fortunately, a reprieve will come for some in 2014, when the Obama Administration’s recent landmark health care laws will mean exciting changes for Americans seeking better medical insurance and/or fearing crushing medical debt. These new public options could quell the fears of many Americans who currently avoid medical care for fear that shouldering this type of debt—with or without insurance to back them up—could add financial insult to their injury.

But for many, these changes in government coverage can’t come quickly enough. And for some the new options may come late—especially for already beleaguered and bankruptcy bound individuals facing unexpected illnesses, injuries or surgeries.

The good news is that when unsecured medical debt does threaten the financial well being of American households, bankruptcy is always an option to help make your budget feel better. According to recent reports, medical bills played a role in 62 percent of personal bankruptcies filed in 2007, up 7percent from 2001. Shockingly, 78 percent of these filers actually had health insurance—no great guarantee anymore that you get what you pay for.

So, if you are suffering from illness, injury, and/ or fearing more out of control debt, it is the right time to consider filing a medical-related bankruptcy. It is always important to remember that as unsecured debt, medical bills can be discharged entirely under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Indeed, bankruptcy may be just what you need to help you get back on your financial feet again.

And so if you find yourself in a situation where medical bills or low credit is affecting your ability to live, it’s best to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney. The bankruptcy professionals at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation for those times when negative debt is taking its toll. Just call toll free to +1-919-646-2654, or make an appointment online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.

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