We’re four months into enrollment in the health exchanges and at least 7.7 million Americans have applied for coverage.
That’s good news for the one in four Americans that are struggling with medical bills. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey reported this statistic last week. It is a powerful reminder why we set out to reform health care in the first place.
Faced with mounting medical bills, people have to tap into savings, or the equity in their homes to stay afloat, and that’s if they’re lucky enough to have any savings. Even still, many times it’s not enough.
The crushing cost of care and medical debt has become the leading reason why Americans declare personal bankruptcy. The CDC survey also confirmed that 1 in 10 Americans can’t pay their medical bills at all.
Cathy Stoddart, a nurse and one of our Executive Board members, can tell you all about this from first hand experience. In a blog post last year, Cathy talked about how her family had to file for bankruptcy after years of working to pay off medical bills for her son’s heart surgery.
“As a mother and a nurse, my child not having the care he needed was not an option. So we ended up putting his heart catheterizations, echo cardiograms and doctors’ visits on our credit cards.
“We always paid what we could, but those charges and mounting medical bills after years and years became more than we could ever repay in several lifetimes; so we had to file bankruptcy,” said Stoddart.
Talking head TV pundits are eager to point out every bump in the rollout of Affordable Care Act, but the truth is that 7.7 million people are on their way to having insurance that could not only save their life, but also keep them from the brink of bankruptcy. That is why we need Obamacare, and that is why if you haven’t enrolled already, you should do it right now.