By Consumers For Quality Care, on May 19, 2021
According to an NBC News report, many Americans are being harmed twice by the COVID-19 pandemic. Extreme amounts of medical debt hang over some of those worst affected by the disease. According to research from the Consumers for Quality Care 67% of Americans want our policymakers to prioritize reducing the cost of medical health coverage .
Andréa Ceresa had COVID-19 last year, but lingering symptoms have racked up steep medical charges. Troubled breathing, headaches, rashes and other symptoms led Ceresa to visit specialist after specialist, each with a new bill. She said she has paid off $23,000 so far but has $133,000 left to go.
Finance company Credit Karma recently collected data showing that medical debt increased by $2.8 billion from the end of May 2020 to the end of March 2021, and the number of people with overdue debt increased from 19.6 million to 21.4 million.
For Ceresa, bankruptcy appears to be the only option.
“That’s just what’s going to have to happen. The choices were that I either lived or died. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. I just can’t believe it’s come to this. That amount of money is ungodly,” she said.
36-year-old Kimberly Thomas has maxed out her credit cards to treat her lingering COVID-19 symptoms.
“I’m trying to find some kind of insurance that I qualify for that will cover other tests or find a neurologist. I would really hope to find someone to help,” Thomas said. “But the realistic part of me says: ‘Just stop. Don’t make it more difficult. Pay off what you have. This is the life God has given you. Make the best of it.'”
Around 7.7 million American workers – and 6.9 million dependents – lost their employee-sponsored healthcare plan by June 2020, according to a study conducted last October by the Commonwealth Fund, the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and the W.E. Upton Institute.