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Older Americans are feeling the squeeze of medical debt

One of the most talked-about issues over the last several years has been the rising cost of health care. Meanwhile, thousands of Americans are dealing with the major financial burden of unexpected medical costs, which can accumulate as high-interest debt.

As medical costs are growing, so are the numbers of baby boomers reaching retirement age. This is also the time when many people begin experiencing major health concerns. So, they are faced with taking on a significant amount of medical debt or foregoing necessary treatment. In this case, the former seems to be the only option.

According to a report from MarketWatch, the share of people over the age of 65 with credit card or other unsecured debts is on the rise. It's believed that medical expenses are contributing to this growth in debt for older individuals.

Even if a person has health insurance, he or she may be required to cover major expenses out of pocket. If a sufficient amount of cash on hand isn’t available, which is the case for many seniors on a fixed budget, a medical credit card may seem like a good option. After low introductory rates are phased out, those with medical credit cards are often stuck with interest rates ranging between 25 and 30 percent, according to financial observers. This can create an unsustainable debt load.

When a person has limited income, assuming new debt can be a very tricky task, which is why relief may eventually become necessary. Thankfully, there are options to deal with medical expenses that have become credit card debt. Individuals should be able to enjoy their golden years rather than having to be overwhelmed by medical debt.

Source: MarketWatch, "Medical debt snares more retirees," Matthew Heimer, Oct. 14, 2013

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