Consumer rights

To Fight Marylanders’ Medical Debt: The Virtual Forum That Can Help Residents Having Trouble Paying Their Medical Bills | WDVM25 and DCW50

MARYLAND (WDVM) – The past 20 months have shown us how important medical care is, and more so how expensive it can be. Senator Chris Van Hollen wants to help people in Maryland who are struggling with medical debt and who may still be uninsured. According to statistics from a 2020 medical debt survey conducted by Gonzales Research for the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, shows how many Marylanders are in trouble.

The study found that 21% of African Americans and 7% of White Marylanders surveyed had a medical debt that they were unable to pay. Additionally, 24% of African Americans in Maryland delayed seeking health care due to concerns about the cost, and 12% of white Marylanders did the same. The survey also breaks down age groups, different ethnicities, and even geographic regions, such as metropolitan or rural areas, that face medical debt across the state.

The virtual forum highlighted legislation and resources at the state and federal level currently under development that will protect those facing financial hardship such as the Build Back Better Framework and the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

Senator Chris Van Hollen explained that a key part of the Build Back Better program is to reduce the financial strain on families in Maryland and across the country in many different areas. He believes that by reducing health care costs upfront, the risk of bankruptcy or financial hardship due to health care costs can be reduced.

Senator Van Hollen then highlighted other important provisions of the Build Back Better program, such as reducing the cost of home health care and the child tax credit. He explained that by reducing the costs of home health care, people with disabilities or who are older and cannot travel can afford better health care while being in the comfort and convenience of their own homes. . He pointed to the Child Tax Credit which could give families up to $ 300 more per month per child to help cover daily expenses like health care and medical bills.

Senator Van Hollen also highlighted the importance of the legislation he introduced, called the Medical Debt Collection Relief Act. He explained that between 2009 and 2018, hospitals in Maryland filed more than 145,000 lawsuits for more than $ 268 million in debt collection. The legislation was designed to end what Van Hollen describes as “at least the most aggressive debt collection practices” during COVID-19.

“It’s about making sure that at least during this period of maximum emergency, people don’t face the prospect of bankruptcy, which can cause them to lose their homes or cars or whatever. else, “said Van Hollen.

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 28% of people in Maryland are eligible for Medicaid or other public health insurance. The open enrollment period for healthcare coverage is always open and if you want your healthcare coverage to start on January 1, 2022, you must register before December 15, 2021.