About 40% of Americans are having trouble managing their medical bills and have had at least one bill sent to collections, according to a survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report this month. The media outlet conducted the survey to see how individuals are managing medical bills during the pandemic, especially as officials are bracing for a “second wave” of individuals who contract COVID-19.
About one out of every 15 Americans has been sued for an unpaid medical debt and one out of every 16 has filed for bankruptcy protection because of unpaid healthcare bills, according to the survey.
About 44% of respondents have postponed seeing a doctor because they can’t afford to, and half of the survey’s respondents said they have cut expenses in other areas in order to help pay off their medical bills.
For those with unpaid bills that have been sent to collections, 20% were unsuccessful in trying to negotiate a payment plan or discount. One-third said they were able to work out a payment plan and one-tenth said they were able to get the total amount owed lowered.
One of the survey’s conclusions was to tell individuals to check their medical bills before making any payment. More than 25% of the respondents said they found a mistake — which was corrected — on their bills.
The number of individuals with unpaid medical debts is expected to increase, largely due to the loss of health insurance when many people were laid off or furloughed from their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. Also contributing to the increase are employers who are switching their healthcare insurance to high-deductible health plans to keep their costs from spiraling out of control.