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Health insurance is not a guarantee against medical debt

Hope for the best. Plan for the worst. It is why we buy insurance. Car insurance helps you repair your vehicle after a crash. Home insurance helps you replace your roof after a hailstorm. Health insurance helps you cover the costs of expensive medical care, but is any of it enough?

Insurance covers many expenses, but each policy or plan has its limits. It does not cover every cost or every situation, which is why approximately 20 percent of people under the age of 65 with health insurance cannot pay all of their medical bills. That number more than doubles to 53 percent for those without insurance.

The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation recently conducted the poll of Americans. The poll went further to ask those who are overwhelmed with medical debt what they did to try to solve the problem. Here were a few of the responses:

  • Cashed in most if not all of their savings
  • Took on a second job or extra overtime
  • Used a payday loan to cover expenses
  • Asked for help from family and friends
  • Moved into a less expensive home
  • Put more bills on their credit cards
  • Went without some necessaries

These are common solutions, not just for medical debt. People suffering from outstanding credit card balances, mortgage defaults, burdensome car loans and much more often turn to one or more of these to find relief.

The problem with these solutions is that they are often only temporary fixes. Savings are limited. Payday loans need to be paid back. Housing is generally not free. There are only so many hours in the day to work.

There was one thing that was not on the list, and that was bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is the one solution that allows you to wipe the slate clean, start over and eliminate medical debt.

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