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Study finds more medical debt among younger people

Younger Louisiana residents may be more likely to fall into medical debt than their older counterparts. A study that appeared in the journal Health Affairs found that from the age 27 to 64, the size of medical debt went down almost 40 percent. This could be because older people have had more time to build up resources, and many are eligible for Medicaid. Younger people may also have more limited insurance with large deductibles.

The study also found that medical providers did not hesitate to send smaller bills to collections. More than 50 percent of collections were for bills under $600, and 2 percent were for bills of less than $200. Providers may send a bill to collections after it goes unpaid for 6 to 12 months. This may affect a person's credit rating.

People may fall into debt as a result of medical expenses because they need to pay other bills, such as utilities, or they need basic necessities like food. Experts suggest contacting the provider if the bill cannot be paid in full to see if a payment plan can be worked out, since these negotiations cannot happen if the bills goes to collections. There may also be access to discounts or some form of charity.

However, medical bills can run into the thousands of dollars, and when this happens, people may become overwhelmed and start to fall behind. People in this situation might want to talk to an attorney about their debt relief options. If people are struggling to make ends meet, bankruptcy might be the right choice. A bankruptcy filing puts at least a temporary halt to collection activities.

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