Healthcare consumers in the United States have been sending out rallying cries over the high cost of medical services, devices and prescription medications for decades. Proponents of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) were hopeful its enactment would lower the cost of healthcare and ultimately make it affordable enough to insure the millions of Americans without health insurance coverage. Unfortunately, the full enactment of the Affordable care act has never been instituted the way it was intended and millions of Americans are finding themselves overwhelmed with medical bills.
Making health care more accessible has also made it more costly
One of the things the ACA has done is make healthcare accessible for millions of Americans who have pre-existing medical conditions. Before the ACA was enacted, insurers could deny coverage to persons with chronic medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer and endometriosis. The law also allows children to remain on their parent’s health insurance plan until they are 26 years of age. President elect Donald Trump has indicated that these are the two most successful provisions within the law, and his intention is to keep them in place.
Playing politics with healthcare
Healthcare in the United States has become a political football in many states. A number of states have refused to accept Medicaid expansion, ultimately keeping the cost of health coverage far too expensive for their residents to purchase.
In the 31 states where the Medicaid expansion has been implemented, enrollees in the exchange established by the ACA pay anywhere from $26 to $100 per month for health coverage. In the 19 states where Medicaid has not been expanded, people are paying on average of $400 a month for individual plans. States like Tennessee have proposed their own programs to tackle the large number of residents who cannot afford health coverage. Meanwhile the cost of medical care continues to rise, and prescription costs are soaring at epic proportions.
The uninsured cost everyone in more ways than most people think
The reality in terms of why the refusal of Medicaid expansion is so devastating is because two and a half million lower income adults fall into what is known as the coverage gap. This means their incomes are too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but fall below the limit set for premium tax credits through the marketplace. The uninsured compromise everyone’s ability to maintain affordable health insurance. As they continue to get sick and pile into emergency rooms for treatment because they don’t have a primary care physician, it places an extraordinary burden on the healthcare system at large. Hospitals all over the country have expanded and even exceeded their indigent care budgets to accommodate the uninsured. Those costs are then shifted onto the backs of those who have insurance through premium hikes, increases in medical procedures, medical devices and prescriptions.
The matters of life and death
Other hospitals have either come close to closing or have actually closed their doors as a result of their states refusal to institute Medicaid expansion. One of Tennessee’s neighbors, the Peach State of Georgia is in a perilous position as the state has lost five of its rural hospitals.
“Five rural hospitals in the state of Georgia have had to close their doors because we have failed to expand Medicaid. Georgia residents are losing their lives because we can’t come together in the legislature.” Georgia State House of Representatives member Dewey McClain said. “We have people here in this state that will have to drive 150 miles one way to seek medical attention in an emergency situation. This is not reasonable, it is cruel, and this should not happen. We all have blood on our hands, because we were elected to do better and we should. The residents of our state deserve better.” McClain continued. A total of 71 rural hospitals have closed nationally since 2010. Tennessee has lost a total of six, which include facilities in Trenton, Brownsville, Humboldt, Jasper, Etowah and Manchester.
Living in fear
The personal tragedy extends far beyond the loss of vital medical centers in rural communities. Millions of people across the United States go about their day to day business terrified of getting sick or injured. Thousands of people have lost their homes and nearly everything they had because of medical debt they have no ability to pay. Hospitals cannot turn away people who are in need of medical treatment. They have to provide treatment regardless of their ability to pay. The uninsured and the underinsured are then left to deal with the financial aftermath.
Hospitals are desperate to collect their money so they will do everything in their power to collect. The average person has no knowledge of the laws which pertain to their situation, and are unaware they can negotiate a plan to pay off their medical bills. Once medical charges are added to a credit report, the results can be devastating and binding. Many employers now conduct credit screenings on potential employees, so medical debt could prevent job seekers from being able to obtain employment.
The effects of medical debt can be devastating
Once judgments have been added to a credit file, it becomes far more difficult to secure loans for mortgages and even to refinance. These types of situations can seem hopeless, but there are avenues people can pursue to protect themselves from medical debt. If you or someone you know is caught in the relentless cycle of medical debt, you should seek the services of an experienced Memphis, Tennessee, consumer bankruptcy attorney. They would be able to evaluate your circumstances, and help layout a bankruptcy payment you can afford, and provide you with the relief you need.