WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Americans hold between $90 billion and $200 billion in medical debt. That’s why the Biden Administration says getting sick or taking care of loved ones who are sick shouldn’t be a financial hardship.
On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced new actions the federal government will take to help ease the burden of medical debt Americans face.
“No one in our nation should have to go bankrupt just to get the health care they need,” Harris said.
Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said medical debt often “forces families into making impossible choices: Do I pay off my debt? Do I purchase life-saving medication?”
HHS will evaluate the practices of medical providers and debt collectors and hold them accountable for harmful practices.
“Credit reports are now being used as a weapon to coerce people into paying bills that they don’t even owe,” said Consumver Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra.
The Biden administration also wants to reduce the impact medical debt can have on someone’s credit score.
The White House said these steps are important because one in three Americans have medical debt and it’s the largest source of debt collection in the US.
“For too many families some two-thirds of debtors medical issues, medical challenges and medical debt contribute to personal bankruptcy,” Becerra said.
The CFPB will also ramp up efforts to inform patients about their rights. The Biden administration also has ongoing efforts to help ease or even eliminate medical debt for veterans who are VA patients and qualify.