Opinion: How hospitals and health systems can help patients avoid medical debt

By working to prevent medical debt, hospitals and health systems can improve patient wellness as well as build trust and loyalty, and signal a commitment to patient and community equity…

While the goal of the American health care system is to improve health and well-being, it triggers financial hardship for many people. One in five U.S. households have incurred medical debt, making it the most common form of unpaid bill for which consumers are contacted by debt collectors, and a reason why many people forgo getting the health care they need.

Existing strategies — such as stopping lawsuits, negotiating repayment terms, charity buy-outs of debt, and even removing medical debt from credit reports — are laudable and help some consumers manage their debt. The Biden-Harris administration’s recent Executive Order will offer additional help by minimizing the financial implications of medical debt, such as harming consumers’ credit reports.

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