March 17, 2022
Every year, millions of Americans, including older adults, take on medical debt to pay for healthcare. Today we released a data spotlight that shows that 4.5 million adults aged 65 and older have a past due medical bill.
Many older adults get medical insurance coverage through Medicare. But Medicare requires coinsurance and copays for many services. Unless they have supplemental coverage, many older adults lack coverage for routine costs such as dental check-ups, hearing services, and other important services. These and a variety of other medical needs can put older adults in debt.
Here are some tips for older adults dealing with medical debt:
Getting medical bills right
If you’re a Qualified Medicare Beneficiary, Medicaid pays for your Medicare deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Doctors, suppliers, and other providers should not bill you for services and items covered by Medicare. If a provider asks you to pay, that bill may be against the law.
Here’s what you can do if you get a bill for covered services.
Dealing with a debt in collections
Unpaid medical bills are often sent to debt collection and reported to credit reporting companies. If you have a medical debt in collections, learn about your debt collection and credit reporting rights.
Health insurance counselors can provide free help
Finding insurance coverage that is affordable and meets your needs can help protect you from medical debt moving forward. Health insurance counselors are free, unbiased, experts who can provide free local help. To find a counselor, visit the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) locator at shiphelp.org.
Find more free resources for older adults at consumerfinance.gov/olderamericans.