Job Loss Puts Many In Medical Debt

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NEW YORK, Aug. 24 (UPI) — A majority of people who lost their jobs and their health insurance in the last two years are skipping needed medicine and healthcare, a U.S. study found.

A Commonwealth Fund report says 72 percent of those people are foregoing needed healthcare or not filling prescriptions because they are struggling with medical bills or medical debt, compared with about half who lost jobs but not their health insurance.

Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, people employed by companies with 20 or more workers can keep their company health insurance for up to 18 months if they lose their job, but since they must pay the full premium out of pocket, few elect to continue their coverage through COBRA, a Commonwealth release said Wednesday.

“Currently, for a majority of Americans, losing a job also means losing health insurance,” said Sara Collins, Commonwealth Fund vice president and report co-author.

When an estimated 15 million working-age adults lost their jobs and their employer-based insurance between 2008 and 2010, 9 million became uninsured, the study found.

“To make matters worse, once you are unemployed and uninsured, it’s nearly impossible to afford COBRA or buy an individual policy.”

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