Medical bills: Leading cause of bankruptcy filings in U.S.

Feb 2, 2015 | Healthcare Industry News

According to NerdWallet, medical expenses are the leading reason Americans file for bankruptcy. When unforeseen expenses arise that are too great for insurance policies to cover, or if the patient is not insured at all, the results can wreak havoc on personal finances and drive individuals into financial ruin. 

"One stay in the hospital could destroy your economic well-being," writes Pat Palmer on the blog. "An evening in the emergency room – even if the underlying problem might not be considered severe – could have you owing what it costs to buy a car."

As we've discussed on this blog, Gallup found that the cost of health care was the leading concern for Americans in 2015. Health care can be crippling to people in every income bracket, but hits the middle class disproportionately compared to high- and low-income earners. The reasons are varied, but the problem persists. 

One of the leading explanations for the disparity between American health care costs and those in other countries is the physical condition of the average American. With higher rates of obesity and smoking-related illnesses, the infrastructure of health care providers is often stretched thin to give attention and treatment to those with preventable illnesses. Some evidence also shows that Americans are more likely to over-treat patients than their counterparts in other nations. Additionally, the quality of care in America is generally very high, so costs can correspond to the expense of costly procedures and treatments. 

The health care industry sustains great pressure to manage and collect on outstanding bills in order to continue providing that high standard of care. When care providers outsource receivables management, they're able to prioritize their most important outstanding debts to make the process more efficient.