The student loan problem in the United States has reached an epidemic. Here at Financial Helpers, we’ve covered just how badly student loan debt has hurt people’s lives. They’re unable to save money. In fact, it’s forcing millennials to put off major life decisions. They simply can’t afford a normal life.
If you have no money and no savings, what happens during an emergency? If you have student loan debt, having any money ready for a rainy day is impossible. In fact, many Americans go without health insurance. It’s difficult to know the exact number of people who are currently uninsured in the U.S., but estimates show that number can be anywhere between 20 and 30 million people.
Health insurance is too costly in this country. Being covered is one of those tricky things that can ultimately hurt you if you’re not. Even if you do have insurance, there can be gaps in your coverage. High deductibles can put you in a financial bind. But if student loans have your budget tapped out, how can you afford a single doctor’s visit?
Because people can’t afford health insurance, they’re out of luck It’s forcing people to put off life-threatening treatments. Even if they do manage some insurance, it costs too much to use it. If you’re paying off a student loan, you probably don’t have the money.
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Student Loan Debt Causes a Crisis
That’s what one woman from Arkansas found out the hard way! CNN reported a story of a woman who was three months pregnant and collapsed in a parking lot. She was rushed to the emergency room and despite having insurance, she still had to pay $830 out of pocket.
The hospital gave her two choices: pay the bill or get a loan through their financial institution. For most people, this sounds like a great deal. With the loan, you can still pay the bill, but on a more manageable scale. But if you’re already buried under a mound of student loan debt, adding more does you no good.
Right now, around 20%-30% of hospitals are offering this financing option, but it leaves a lot of experts with a bad taste in their mouth. A lot of private doctors do offer services to help their financially strapped patients. But, there is something to be said about pressuring someone to secure a bank loan to pay the bill. Especially after an emergency.
The Cost of Health Care
There’s more it than the moral question of whether a hospital should use high-pressure tactics to during an emergency. A lot of the problem has to do with the cost of health care. Most insurance companies can negotiate what they consider a fair price for the services provided.
If you immediately sign up for a loan with the hospital, you’re not going to get the discounted services. The hospital is going to use their own inflated price list. This is a cost most Americans cannot afford.
There are many Americans who also have high deductibles. One person in Florida had to pay $13,000 out of pocket for an emergency procedure. What is a person to do when most Americans don’t even have $400 in their savings due to a student loan? Student loan debt is forcing hospitals to make decisions that hurt patients.
Paying Back the Bill
The best thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to be upfront and honest with the hospital. Tell them you cannot afford the bill. They often have other resources. Financial assistance and government help is possible. They can even screen you to see if you qualify for Medicaid. Don’t let a student loan keep you from getting help.
If none of that works, then you might have to eat the bill. Rather than getting pressured into a loan that day, take the bill home and do your research. There may be local, state, and federal avenues that exist to assist you. Also, don’t be afraid to negotiate with the hospital on a better price. They want to get paid, so they might just work with you to get it done.