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Does credit card debt keep the doctor away?

A recent study indicates that there is a link between large amounts of credit debt and people not seeking out medical care when they are ill. Approximately 64 percent of those who did not see a doctor say they have a large amount of credit card debt. This group was followed by 58 percent who say they already have large medical debts and avoid seeking medical treatment. This topic may be of interest to Florida readers due to the large number of retired residents on fixed incomes.

Forgoing medical care over debt is more likely to happen if the debt is medical or credit card related. The odds of an individual with credit or medical debt and not seeing a doctor are 1.89 percent higher than a person without debt. The study also found this to be the case even after household income and assets were taken into account. There is also a call by the researchers for policy makers to consider the nature of expenses people are responsible for rather than just looking at money or assets available for healthcare.

There is a significant association between not seeking medical attention and the type of debt. The researchers speculated that mortgages, car and student loans are viewed as good debt with a lower interest rate, whereas unsecured debt, like credit cards, has a higher interest rate and may be viewed as bad debt that, in many cases, was unplanned.

Debt in any form can be financially crushing if it's not managed correctly. If an individual discovers they can no longer service his or her debt, a bankruptcy attorney may be able to review the case and make recommendations about what section of the bankruptcy code fits the individual's situation.

Source: Fox Business, "Credit Card Debt Causes People to Forgo Medical Care", Martin Merzer, May 21, 2013

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