Credit Debt Forcing Some to Skip Health Care

Credit Card Debt Health Impact

Credit Card Debt Health Impact

Fox Business has highlighted a new study that Credit Card debt might not only be bad for your finances, it might also be bad for your health!

Sociologists at the University of Michigan have found that people who are carrying a lot of credit card debt are less likely to seek medical treatment when they are ill. That is in contrast to people carrying other kinds of debt, so people who are carrying mortgage debt, business debt or student loans are more likely to seek medical attention compared to a person carrying credit card debt.

More than 60% of people who are ill but have not sought medical treatment have credit card debt. Those who are already carrying medical related debt come in a close second with 58% avoiding medical assistance despite being ill.

The lead researcher, Lucie Kalousova explains: “We found that having credit card debt or medical debt was associated with forgoing medical care, as opposed to having student loans, housing loans or car loans,”. The study, entitle “Debt and Forgone Medical Care,” was published in April 2013.

A person with credit card debt is nearly 1.9 times more likely to avoid medical treatment when they are ill compared to someone without any credit card debt. The greater the level of debt, the greater the chance they will avoid treatment.

This indicates that large credit card debt isn’t just a financial problem, it could have a severe impact of your health. The longer you avoid medical attention, the more likely it is that a condition may worsen, leading to more prolonged treatment, more expensive treatment and/or longer recovery times eventually. That can mean even more debt and time off work, which makes your financial situation much worse in the long run. Patients who avoid medical treatment are more likely to end up in an emergency room and putting strain on public health care facilities.

The authors of the paper found no significant association between other forms of debt like student loans, car loans, mortgage and any reluctance to seek medical care. The differences reside in the type of debt.

Researchers suggest they do not understand why it is the case, but credit card debt dramatically impacts on access and affordability of health care. They speculate that credit card debt is a high interest form of debt more likely to be heavily utilized by people who are struggling with financial issues, while car, home and student loans are more likely to be used by people who have the financial house in order.

Researchers call those kinds of debts – student loans, car loans and mortgages – “Good debt”. Those good debts have long repayment terms, low interest rates and can lead to enhanced standard of living. Credit card debts are more likely to be utilized during times of financial stress also, indicating that people relying upon them simply don’t have the money to seek expensive medical care.

Other studies have reported other worrying links between credit card debt and risky health behavior like smoking and heavy drinking.

Access to health care has been a difficult issue in the United States with the government reporting that 10% of working age people declined to see a doctor despite being ill in 2010 because of the cost. On average, the people who carried credit card debt and did not seek medical attention even though they needed it, carried over $8000 in credit card debt.

So it looks like consumers have another reason for lowering credit card debt and to avoid being reliant upon our credit cards – it may negatively impact their health because it makes them unable to seek medical attention!