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Med debt can pile up if you don't know what you're dealing with

The Affordable Care Act is supposed to be setting the country on a course to greater control over medical costs. But just because the law is in place doesn't mean that issues don't continue to exist for people in Illinois or the rest of the country.

As we noted in one recent post, one study conducted by NerdWallet finds that some 51 million U.S. adults are confronted with medical debt. There are a number of good reasons for this. One of the most obvious is that when someone finds themselves in need of serious medical attention, they don't have a clue as to what things cost.

That goes for the nuts and bolts of care delivered in the hospital. It also applies to the cost of possible tests and treatments that might be ordered. It's easy to put out of mind if you happen to have insurance. But how many of us know exactly what that insurance covers?

If another study is to believed, it's possible that a lot of people are in the dark as far as that goes, too. And where that is the case, it can be easy for medical bills to accumulate and for people to find themselves forced into dire financial circumstances.

The reason for this word of caution is that this study by the online health insurance buying help site, ConnectedHealth, has found that there's a huge education gap when it comes to consumer knowledge about health insurance. For example, 39 percent of respondents couldn't properly define what a deductible is. Within the ranks of the millennial generation, that number rose to 49 percent.

The deductible is how much an insurance plan may require an individual to pay out of pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. So, imagine you go to the hospital and the policy says you have to pay $5,000 before insurance starts. And then imagine that your condition is such that you hit the maximum coverage limits.

It's easy to see that financial difficulty may be just one illness away. To know if the protections offered by bankruptcy might be needed, consult an attorney.

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