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Managing rising medication costs and related debt

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Ohio residents who are faced with serious health problems may struggle under the burden of expensive medications. The issue can become even more frustrating as providers of medical insurance place a greater portion of prescription costs in the hands of consumers. The Affordable Care Act has drawn many newcomers into the insurance system as well, creating challenges as many of these individuals aren't familiar with basic insurance concepts and practices. Medical debt can mount quickly as these people attempt to handle premiums, co-pays and other costs.

Some patients worry that they won't be able to continue to receive treatment if they neglect their medical bills, and this prompts many to use high-interest credit cards to cover these expenses. Others choose to pay these bills while skipping other household expenses, resulting in delinquencies that can affect credit ratings and interest rates. Some choose to pay for prescription medications with credit, and others choose to go without their medicines because of financial problems. Nearly 30 percent of Americans have indicated that they have skipped doses or gone without prescriptions. The financial implications of this practice can be serious for both patients and for the system at large as chronic conditions worsen due to inconsistent treatment.

As credit card balances increase and as medical bills are sent to collections, the challenges can become discouraging. Approximately 52 percent of collections accounts reported to credit agencies are connected to medical debt. This is the single greatest cause of bankruptcy filings in the nation.

A household dealing with unanticipated medical expenses may find that bankruptcy is an option for addressing frustrating collections and unmanageable debt. A bankruptcy lawyer may provide assistance in evaluating different types of bankruptcy along with other debt relief options for dealing with high bills and limited resources.

Source: CNBC, "Medication costs fuel painful medical debt, bankruptcies", Dan Mangan, May 28, 2014

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