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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Medical Debt Still a Problem Under Health Law — Despite Protections

Today's post was shared by Kaiser Health News and comes from

Elizabeth and Britt Harmon struggled for years to have a child, and were thrilled when their son Orin was born in February 2013. But they were unprepared for the medical problems that then upended the Brooksville, Maine couple’s lives.

Orin was born with pulmonary stenosis, a heart condition, and severe asthma. He required constant care, including frequent trips to the hospital and medications that cost hundreds of dollars. The Harmons had insurance through Britt’s job at a plumbing company, but it covered “maybe half” of their child’s medical expenses, Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth Harmon with son, Orin, who is just a few days old in this picture.
They are resting at home between medical appointments. (Photo by Britt Harmon

Then, Britt’s employer dropped insurance as a benefit at the end of 2013; he lost his job in June. The family scrambled to find coverage but went three months without any before qualifying in July for MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program for low-income people. By then, the Harmons had accumulated thousands of dollars in medical debt, Elizabeth said. They’re still working — with the help of a local non-profit organization — to pay it off.

“I’ve sold furniture out of my own house to try to pay off some of the bills,” she said. “There were so many bills, it was impossible to keep track of everything.”

The federal health law was intended to keep a surprise illness or...

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