Even With Insurance, Family Faces $15K In Medical Debt

By Consumers For Quality Care, on May 8, 2019

Even With Insurance, Family Faces $15K In Medical Debt

Clarisa and Zack Corber, both 33, have a list of hopes for their young family. Clarisa wishes she could get medication for her depression and acne. Zack needs to see a doctor about his knees, which swell after he climbs too many stairs. They wish they could move their family to a larger home, in a nicer part of town. But for now, those hopes are all on hold. Instead, the Corbers are focused on paying down the $15,000 they have in medical debt, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Even with insurance, the Corbers ended up with debt. When their second child, Abigail, was born prematurely three years ago, they wound up with more than $9,000 in medical bills for her stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Last year, their youngest daughter Kaley was taken to the emergency room for problems breathing. They got a diagnosis of a common infection and a $2,000 bill. At points, the family’s insurance deductible was as high as $8,000.

They know that their situation could be worse. All three of their children are generally healthy. Clarisa and Zack are employed. The family has insurance through Zack’s work as a pipefitter. The family’s income is close to $75,000. Still, after rent, utilities, insurance, and childcare, there rarely is money left over to pay down their debt.

“It’s tough,” she said. “Every time I see the phone ring, I think it’s the collection agency.” 

Clarisa pays $50 a month to the collection agency, which goes towards their medical debt and her student loans. Last year, the couple sold off much of their belongings to help pay for off their debt. They sold a laptop, printer and toys the children no longer wanted to play with. At times, they relied on help from their church to get food. Still, they find themselves staring down the debt.

Clarisa has a strategy for the medical bills, born of necessity. “I open it, I look at it, and I let it go to collections,” she said.

She wonders why the system is so broken that they find themselves in such a hole.

“It beats you down,” Clarisa said recently as she sat at the family dining table, tallying some $15,000 in outstanding medical bills the family has racked up in recent years even though they had insurance through Zack’s work.

“We want to pay off everything. We’re not slackers,” Zack added. “We just can’t.”