After a devastating horse-riding accident in January 2017 landed him in the hospital for about 30 days, requiring trauma care and hospital-based therapy, Jeff Woodard considered himself lucky.
The bills amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. But Woodard’s employer-sponsored health insurance limited his out-of-pocket maximum payment to $5,000. He reached that “within like a day,” he recalled.
His retired parents relocated from their small town in Massachusetts to help Woodard, now 27, who lives just outside of Denver, through his recovery. With their support, and regular outpatient therapy, he returned to working full time in just two months.
But he didn’t expect another set of payments to haunt him and his parents for nearly a year, ultimately going to collections, and threatening to weaken his credit rating for years more.
While medical bills are a leading source of personal bankruptcy in the United States, a far more common problem is the widespread damage they do to people’s credit. Almost 40 percent of adults younger than 65 reported a lower credit score because of medical debt, according to the most recent Commonwealth Fund analysis, based on 2016 data.
That means greater difficulty with transactions such as financing mortgages, taking out student loans or purchasing cars.
Read more at Kaiser Health News