Obamacare Seems to Be Reducing People’s Medical Debt

Obamacare Seems to Be Reducing People’s Medical Debt
April 20 01:00 2016

Even if you lack health insurance, you’ll probably be able to get treatment at a hospital in the event of a catastrophe — if you’re struck by a car, say. But having insurance can mean the difference between financial security and financial ruin.

A new study is showing that, by giving health insurance to low-income people, Obamacare seems to have cut down on their debt substantially. It estimates that medical debt held by people newly covered by Medicaid since 2014 has been reduced by about $600 to $1,000 each year.

The study, published Monday as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, builds on earlier evidence from Oregon and Massachusetts that offering health insurance to low-income Americans can help them avoid debt and financial shocks.

I’ve written before about the big benchmarks I’m watching to evaluate the success of the health law. Its impact on people’s financial security is an important one.

Robert Kaestner, one of the authors of the new study, said he and his co-authors think the financial impacts of Medicaid could have cascading effects for the program’s beneficiaries. Previous research has linked hospitalizations among the uninsured to higher risk of bankruptcy, unpaid bills and a lowered credit score…

Read full story at New York Times
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