It might seem reasonable to assume that people in their 50s and early 60s have the largest amount of medical debt. They’re at the age where their bodies are starting to give out, but they aren’t yet old enough to qualify for Medicare.
However, according to one study on medical debt that used data from 2016, people of one particular age — 27 — were more likely to have at least one medical bill sent to a collection agency than anyone else. Some 11% of those with medical debt, by that definition, were that age.
What’s unique about the age of 27? Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), young people can be covered by their parents’ health insurance policies until they reach the age of 26. Research also shows that people are more likely to purchase their own health insurance as they get a little older. Therefore, the number of people with medical debt decreases with age from 27 to 45.
Medical bills sent for collection are just one form of medical debt. The research didn’t include medical bills that were put on a credit card or other bills that went unpaid so that a person could pay a hospital or doctor bill.
Medical debt can impact a person’s entire financial situation. Perhaps an even more serious problem is that some people don’t seek necessary medical care because they can’t afford it.
Despite repeated threats by some politicians to take a wrecking ball to the ACA, it’s still in effect. Obtaining insurance can help protect you from financial calamity that too often accompanies a serious illness or disabling accident.
However, even relatively small medical bills that people with insurance are responsible for after copays and insurer payments can devastate people who don’t have a good deal of money in savings. More than half of past-due medical bills are less than $600.
If your medical debt, regardless of the size, has made it difficult to keep up with your regular expenses, it may be worthwhile to consider the option of bankruptcy. An experienced attorney can provide you with valuable guidance.