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Medical Bills Skyrocket—Many Families Wallowing in Debt

One fact that Illinois brain injury victims and their families know well: medical bills are often staggeringly expensive. Those suffering from the more severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)-often from falls, car accidents, and similar situations-have particularly high medical bills because of the intensive intervention necessary to keep them healthy. In the case of TBI victims, the basic medical costs are compounded by the often extensive therapy necessary to recover brain function and relearn basic skills. These costs may last for years. In fact, many families are simply unable to secure the best therapy available to help spur recovery as much as possible as a result of a lack of financial resources.

The latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) place the direct medical costs of TBIs at $60 billion annually. However, when all of the incidental costs are included, such as lost ability to work and other lifestyle changes, the overall costs has been estimated into the trillions of dollars each year. The money involved in these situations is truly mind-boggling. Even when brought down to the level of a single family, the financial consequences of these injuries alone often place impossible financial strain on those hurt.

For this reason, our Illinois brain injury lawyers were not surprised to read the story this week from the USA Today which found that as many as one in five Americans are struggling with medical debt. The finding was taken from a CDC survey of 52,000 people last year. According to those involved, this is the first government examination of the actual scope of medical debt. In fact, even independent health policy observers have conceded that this CDC study is likely the largest-ever examination of medical debt.

The findings are not pretty. Twenty percent of Americans are struggling to pay this debt, with half of that group admitting that they are currently unable to pay any money at all toward the financial burden. Expectedly, those with lower income are hardest hit by high medical bills. As defined in the survey, low-income Americans were 300% more likely to be struggling with this debt when compared to their middle and upper income counterparts.

Our Illinois injury lawyers appreciate that financial struggles have a tremendous impact on all areas of one’s life. Basic decisions about where to live, what to drive, what to eat, and what to do with one’s free time are all dictated by one’s financial situation. Therefore, when even a single medical catastrophe leads one to accumulate large medical bills, the life of an entire family can be turned upside down for decades.

If you find yourself in this situation and the underlying cause of the medical harm was connected to the actions of someone else, you should remember that you may have legal recourse. No family should be thrown into financial ruin because of the misconduct of another person. Please take a moment to share your story with a legal professional to learn how the law might apply in your case to help with mounting medical bills.

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