Medical debt is a known burden for too many American households, but the situation is far worse than anyone ever imagined. In 2016, U.S. households were carrying about $81 billion in medical debt. Since then, that amount has almost doubled.
New research says that Americans owe $140 billion to medical professionals, hospitals, care centers, and therapists, among other health care workers. The average American with medical debt owes about $2,420.
Healthcare-related debt is among the worst forms of debt because it is often unavoidable and not your fault. A sudden illness, car accident, physical injury, chronic disease, or emergency could leave you and your family struggling with debt.
In southern states, the situation is particularly bad, researchers at Harvard, Stanford, and UCLA say. Medical debt is concentrated in states where there was no Medicaid expansion. This includes Tennessee.
About 1 in 5 Tennessee residents have medical debt on their credit report, according to the Tennessee Justice Center, an advocacy group. Tennessee has the 8th highest rate of medical debt in the U.S.
Car accidents and medical debt
If you were injured by someone else in an accident, you have the opportunity to make a full recovery without getting yourself into medical debt. When negligent actions result in injuries, the at-fault party—and by extension their insurance company—is often responsible to pay for the victim's damages (accident-related expenses), such as:
- Medical bills, including the cost of future treatment
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning potential
- Replacement services (e.g., childcare, house cleaning/maintenance)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering (in certain cases)
Recovering from a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else should not cost a victim anything. Auto insurance policies are supposed to prevent such a thing from happening, but adjusters often have to be reminded of this by an attorney. Remember, insurance companies have a financial interest in paying victims as little money as possible.
Where does medical debt come from?
Medical debt is any past due bill for diagnosing, treating, or preventing an illness or physical or mental disability. Debt often accumulates due to:
- Doctor exams
- Dentist visits
- Seeing medical specialists (eye and GI doctors, for example)
- Hospital stays
- Emergency medical treatment
- Lab tests, X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs
- Prescription medication
- Medical equipment and supplies like wheelchairs and dressings
- Specialized transportation (ambulance or other medically-equipped transport)
A car accident attorney can help you understand the full cost of your injury
Medical debt is a burden for too many American families, but if you were injured in a car accident that wasn't your fault, it doesn't have to be your future.
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash, it's important that you pursue the maximum compensation for your damages. If you don't get everything you need from your insurance claim settlement or verdict, you could wind up paying for expensive accident-related medical treatments out of pocket for years.
You shouldn't be put in medical debt by someone's reckless behavior. You shouldn't be shortchanged by greedy insurance companies. Our law firm understands how to calculate the true cost of your injury, and we know how to fight for the compensation you need to cover your current and future medical expenses.
Contact us today to see how we can help you during a free, no-obligation case review. Our office is located in Goodlettsville, TN, and we offer legal representation on a contingency fee basis. That means you don't pay any fees unless we win. If you've been injured, call us right away.