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Could the COVID-19 Pandemic Lead to the End of Medical Bankruptcy?

In the middle of an election year where healthcare is already a hotly debated issue, the COVID-19 pandemic has stirred further discussion about whether major changes are necessary. During the Democratic presidential primary, the concept of Medicare for All split the candidates. While the candidate who promoted that concept has since dropped out of the race, the significant financial pressure on consumers and healthcare providers highlighted by the pandemic might strengthen the position of those who seek a fundamental overhaul to America’s healthcare system.

One study says that medical costs are a factor in about two-thirds of the bankruptcies filed within the United States. Serious divisions still exist regarding ways to limit financial hardship, but the coronavirus crisis has highlighted several concerns that have prompted calls for change:

  • High costs of inpatient care — Estimates put the average cost that an uninsured person would have to pay for inpatient coronavirus care between $40,000 and $75,000. Even in circumstances where a patient has health insurance, high deductibles or uncovered costs could push them toward bankruptcy, especially in a situation when other economic pressures exist.
  • Importance of preventative measures — Many people and organizations have criticized the U.S. healthcare system for being too reactive rather than offering concrete ways to prevent long-term health issues. The explosion of coronavirus and the fact that it seems much more harmful to individuals with largely treatable conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure might prompt insurance companies and governments to work even harder to support preventative care to lessen the likelihood of significant afflictions, and costs, later on.
  • Struggling healthcare providers — The last thing on most people’s minds when they hear about debt problems within the healthcare industry is the fate of the hospitals that charge them so much. However, the cancellation of most non-coronavirus procedures during the pandemic demonstrates how slim a margin exists for healthcare facilities, particularly in rural areas.

It’s not uncommon for people to say that “nothing will ever be the same” as we go through the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the healthcare sector that might very well be true. Perhaps the intense focus on industry problems will foster change that makes medical bankruptcy a thing of the past. Until then, however, medical expenses, whether coronavirus-related or not, could put tremendous financial strain on you and your family. If you are struggling with medical debt or serious financial difficulties related to the economic crisis, finding the right bankruptcy lawyer could help you overcome your difficulties.

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Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, LLP represents clients in bankruptcy actions and related matters. Please contact the firm online to schedule a consultation.

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