One of today's biggest issues revolves around Americans and crippling amounts of medical debt. Not just a problem for a small percentage of the population, medical debt now affects millions. Mississippi is no exception to this struggle, as the state has become home to the highest medical debt in the country. Will this unsettling statistic change in the near future? What can consumers going through these tough times expect?
PBS News Hour spent time focusing on this major problem, pointing out that almost 40 percent of adults in Mississippi aged 65 and younger struggle with medical debt. Furthermore, PBS shows that it is the middle class who suffers from this issue the most. This type of debt is the biggest reason consumers file for bankruptcy. Some experts claim that the fault lies in exorbitant insurance plans mixed with a lack of savings. By the same token, hospitals suffer, as well: when patients cannot pay the bills, the hospitals must manage. PBS brings to attention the wide range of possible solutions to this economic problem -- such as the expansion of Medicaid and the creation of more jobs -- however, a single solution has yet to surface.
For those in these frustrating situations, the light at the end of the tunnel can seem farther and farther away. U.S. News offers the following tips on how consumers can wrangle medical bills:
- Check for errors on billing statements
- Consider filing bankruptcy
- Communicate with hospital billing office
- Maintain awareness of due dates
Because to err is human, checking medical bills for possible mistakes is just one way patients can ensure all processes are in order. Filing bankruptcy is another option that can help relieve the burden of unpaid bills. U.S. News also notes that negotiations with hospital staff can allow patients to form the best possible payment plans. Lastly, understanding the situation at hand -- including the timeframe for debt collections -- can help clarify an otherwise overhwhelming financial predicament.