It may not be newsworthy to read that many Florida seniors live on a fixed income. However, how that admittedly obvious fact is affecting seniors faced with mounting medical bills may be worth mentioning. These days, it seems simple for seniors on a fixed income to pay medical and dental bills through loans and/or credit cards. This may work in the short run, but in the end, it can cause significant problems.
When sitting in a doctor’s office or a hospital room in need of medical care, hearing that it is possible to pay medical expenses over time can be enticing. Medical professionals receive full payment at the time of service, and the patient will be able to make smaller payments on that debt. Many medical credit cards even offer a period where no interest will accrue on the balance.
However, not many people — especially those on a fixed income — may be able to pay off the entire balance within the zero interest time period. This means that, ultimately, the patient is going to be hit with interest that can range anywhere from 25 to 30 percent. Further, missing even one payment can result in exorbitant late fees.
What started as a win-win situation for both doctor and patient can rapidly become financial quicksand for the patient. Some Florida seniors find themselves filing for bankruptcy protection as a means of responsibly dealing with large amounts of medical bills paid for by medical credit cards and loans. There may not be an easy answer regarding how to make healthcare more affordable, but there are options that are worth exploring for those whose medical bills have simply become unmanageable.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, Medical debt snares more retirees, Matthew Heimer, Oct. 14, 2013