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Progress on paying down medical debt falters

Medical debts weigh down many American families, and reports have foreshadowed a growing number of people will be unable or struggle to pay their bills. According to a Jan. 25 report, employers are pushing workers into high-deductible health plans, and out-of-pocket costs are rising. That means that individuals who get hurt or need medical care may find that paying the difference could be more challenging than before.

According to a report from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, overdue medical bills are the top bill consumers were contacted about by debt collection agencies. The report took a survey involving over 2,000 consumers to make this determination.

The consumers reported that the most common debt that went to collections was for past-due medical bills. Next, unpaid phone bills and utility bills went to collections. Following those, it was unpaid taxes, unpaid legal judgments and other expenses.

Interestingly, a report from the National Center for Health Statistics indicated that the number of people struggling to pay their medical bills had dropped during the first half of 2016, but employers and workers saw that people using private insurance had more trouble paying their bills in 2016 than in 2015.

If you're one of the many families struggling with medical bills, you have every right to be informed about all your options. You may be able to negotiate your bills or pay them down over time. You could opt to pursue bankruptcy or work with the hospital to make payments on a predetermined schedule. There are options, so you don't have to continue to struggle.

Source: Twin Cities Business, "Progress On Paying Personal Medical Debt Slows," David Burda, Jan. 25, 2017

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