In the U.S. debt is a big problem…medical debt being one of the primary areas for concern. Across the U.S. alone, people are expected to have about $195 billion in medical debt. This doesn’t even account for debt in other areas such as credit cards, student loans, car payments, and mortgages. 3 million people exactly, currently owe more than $10,000 and can you guess what state has the most medical debt held by seniors?
If you haven’t guessed it, it’s Florida. Florida seniors have the worst medical debt in the US currently. The current wave of inflation has unleashed a financial crisis for millions of Americans, but it is the seniors relying on fixed incomes who are bearing the brunt of this burden, particularly when it comes to their medical expenses. Let’s take a closer look at this problem.
Shedding Light for Florida Seniors
A recently released report by Alignment Healthcare sheds light on the extent to which medical bills are piling up for seniors. Shockingly, it reveals that “34% of those with medical debt in Florida” have bills amounting to at least three months’ worth of living expenses. This distressing statistic makes Florida’s seniors the most burdened by medical debt in the entire country, indicating a crisis that could be even more severe than currently acknowledged.
Keep in mind that it’s often suggested to have personal savings equaling 5 to 8 months of living expenses to have as a safety net in the case of the unexpected happening. The question is, how is this doable if Florida seniors are in medical debt equaling 3 months of living expenses? This means the difficulty of setting aside a reserve for emergency funding won’t be easy to put together for most seniors.
Immunity Unfortunately Doesn’t Exist In This Scenario
Even seniors who do have Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance are not immune to the mounting costs when it comes time to settle their medical bills. It has been pointed out that another prevalent problem is when seniors are pouring those medical debts into high-interest-rate credit cards. This creates an entirely different problem because now medical bills are climbing and so is credit card debt.
At a certain point, this will only lead to an influx of money problems for seniors that may only have access to limited income. One of the solutions is better Medicaid and Medicare services for seniors but this isn’t likely to be a quick fix.
In the face of this challenging situation, social workers are committed to supporting seniors as they navigate an increasingly costly and complex healthcare system.
Savings Around Every Corner?
Affordable healthcare should be accessible to everyone and this is the issue because it isn’t. There is a lot of work to be done with this but until financial stability becomes an economic norm, Florida seniors need to stay ahead of their savings, their medical expenses, and their spending. Some of the best ways for Florida seniors to do this are to work with a financial advisor, favor preventative care, try to stay within your network when you need care, and opt for generic prescriptions. Seniors can also;
- Explore a variety of care options
- Look into discounts
- Utilize prescription savings programs
- Ask for over-the-counter alternatives
- Keep an eye out for errors in your bills
- Work with a professional bill reviewer if you have trouble navigating your bills
Seniors need to stay aware of the resources available to them within their communities to guide them through these difficulties being experienced across the state.
Medicaid Expansion Exists but Not in Florida as of Yet
Unfortunately, in the state of Florida, Medicaid expansions aren’t a reality yet. When the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, it granted states the option to expand Medicaid.
However, according to data presented by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Florida is among the 11 states, primarily in the southern region, that have not taken advantage of this expansion, despite the federal government’s offer to cover 90% of the costs. This is another area of concern that could pose a possibility for improvement. However, this isn’t likely to be a quick fix.
It’s a Work in Progress but Better Advocacy Is the Key
The issue of seniors grappling with mounting medical bills amidst rising inflation is an urgent issue that demands attention. It’s the responsibility of different communities to advocate for improved healthcare access and support for our aging population.
At that point, we can begin to alleviate the consistent financial burdens on seniors and ensure their well-being and financial stability during challenging times and salutations like this.