Pay attention: Medical payments upended her life and her credit score rating

This story is a part of an ongoing investigation from KHN and NPR into medical debt.

Penelope Wingard is hard. She has survived breast most cancers, a mind aneurysm, and surgical procedure on each eyes. However saving her life has come at a steep value.

Wingard — who goes by “Penny” — is now free from most cancers. However for the previous eight years, she has been battling one thing that has felt simply as robust as a power sickness: medical debt. Signs embody day by day payments within the mail and harassing calls from collectors. And her credit score rating has taken a success.

She has resigned herself to dwelling with the ramifications of medical debt.

These embody being minimize off from docs till she pays down her debt, having to borrow cash from household for medical emergencies, and being rejected from jobs when her low credit score rating exhibits up as a pink flag on background checks.

“It is such as you’re being punished for being sick,” Wingard mentioned.

This yr, three nationwide credit score companies announced new policies to stop medical debt from harming individuals’s credit score scores. Shopper advocates celebrated, pondering reduction was lastly on the way in which for tens of millions of Individuals battling medical payments.

It seems the brand new insurance policies will not assist Wingard.

A report from the Shopper Monetary Safety Bureau discovered the insurance policies will not attain most of the individuals hit hardest by medical debt. Like Wingard, they are typically Black Individuals dwelling in Southern states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.

Kaiser Health NewsThis text was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Household Basis. Kaiser Well being Information, an editorially unbiased information service, is a program of the Kaiser Household Basis, a nonpartisan well being care coverage analysis group unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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