Medical debt is the enemy of everyone
“Medical debt is the mortal enemy of the patient, the physician, the hospital, the community, the state, and the nation. When we think of others’ debts, we tend to think such debts are their personal responsibility. If they’re unable to pay the debt, it’s their problem. (We make it a You problem, not a Me problem) Society tells us a problem with personal debt is a direct result of bad decisions, poor personal financial habits, profligate spending, living beyond one’s means. We blame those with medical debt for their bad choice of buying substandard health insurance, or else for not purchasing any health insurance at all. We say the consequences of debt are rightly visited on the debtor. Whatever the impact — canceled credit cards, low credit, wage garnishment — it’s on them. Personal responsibility.
Is this true? In the big picture, we individuals and society both bear the costs and burdens of personal “bad debt.” For individuals who fall into arrears in their payments, who cannot pay their financial obligations, unpaid debt means their ability to buy goods and services is curtailed or perhaps ended. If new credit is not extended, the person must live on cash. For any business, any debt that’s not paid by the customer creating it becomes a cost to the enterprise extending credit. The business recoups its loss by raising prices on products or services for all future customers. The business may stop its loss by not providing goods or services to a debtor, disciplining those not paying their bills. In such cases, the consequences of unpaid bills fall on the debtor and creditor, usually ending there.”
Robert E. Goff is a health care consultant and co-author of End Medical Debt: Curing America’s $1 Trillion Unpayable Healthcare Debt.
He shares his story and discusses his KevinMD article, “Medical debt is the enemy of everyone.”