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Surprising Science

Fear of Medical Debt Makes Young Adults Pass Up on Healthcare

Many young adults are not seeking the medical care they need. When they hear the costs involved for a specific treatment, they stop listening and usually forgo the process due to fear of medical debt. 

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell

What’s the Latest Development?

According to a Common Wealth Fund survey, the cost of medical treatment discourages a large percentage of adults between the ages of 19-29 from seeking medical care within a 12-month period. It is common for this age group to not keep up with routine screenings and tests, prescription refills or doctor visits. For young adults that do seek medical attention, the survey indicates 36 percent of them in the same age group “reported problems paying medical bills or said they were paying off debt over time.” It is suggested that someone in their twenties doesn’t expect to get a serious illness, so it isn’t something they prepare themselves to pay for at that age. When an issue arises, then they are responsible for a high medical billso they avoid seeking the necessary treatment at the thought of becoming consumed by debt. A recent provision in the Affordable Care Act allows young adults up to the age of 26 years to receive health coverage on their parents’ healthcare plan. However, while this affords many young adults the access to healthcare, only close to half of this demographic takes advantage of this extended coverage. In 2014, the provision will be up for review to see if this law will remain in effect. There is a strong possibility it could be voted down by the naysayers, causing young adults to fall further to the wayside of medical care. 

What’s the Big Idea? 

The rising cost in healthcare is discouraging for young adults to take part in regular medical maintenance; furthermore, necessary medical treatment is not a priority because of medical debt. Forty-three percent of the young adults who have went through with medical treatment reported that they drained their savings to cover the costs; 33 percent transferred the debt over to credit cards; and 32 percent put off repayment of other pressing financial commitments to take care of their medical fees, while others reported difficulties paying rent and buying food.  


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