Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tennessee has lots of medical debt
A new study says medical debt is surprisingly common in Tennessee, appearing on one in four credit reports. It often results from circumstances tough to predict or control, and even small amounts can make it harder to get ahead. However, there are many options for policymakers who want to prevent medical debt, help people manage their medical bills, and mitigate medical debtís negative effects on financial security, economic mobility, and health. That is the finding of a recent study of medical debt by the Sycamore Institute. The complexities of medical debt offer policymakers a wide range of opportunities to prevent the problem, help people manage it, and mitigate its effects. Upstream policy levers that address surprise bills, access to coverage, and out-of-pocket insurance costs could help prevent many situations that cause medical bills to go unpaid. Midstream options that address provider billing, personal savings, and access to financial capability services and affordable, small-dollar lending could help make medical bills easier to manage. Downstream policy options that affect debt collection practices and lawsuits, risky debt settlement services, the use of credit history, and debt pay-off could help to mitigate the negative effects of medical debt. The study finds there is no silver bullet for medical debt. "Our research suggests no single policy change would address every troubling aspect of medical debt in Tennessee and its downstream effects." the authors say. For example, getting more people enrolled in health insurance would make new medical debt less likely among those currently uninsured, but it would not affect existing debts or curtail surprise out-of-network bills for those with insurance. Tennesseans incur medical debt for many reasons, including circumstances that may be tough to predict or control, and the downstream effects on financial stability, economic mobility, and health range widely. Each option presented here addresses different aspects of this problem.


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Thursday, June 04, 2020

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