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Children's mental health care can create Illinois medical debt

This space has previously discussed the fact that one of the biggest contributors to residents' financial difficulties is medical debt. While this burden has been eased some by recent changes in federal law, the problem has not gone away, and future changes may create an even bigger problem. Even with medical insurance, many Illinois families face high health care costs, especially when it comes to the cost of keeping children healthy.

One of the largest costs in healthcare is the cost of mental health. While current law requires certain levels of coverage, there still seems to be many services that do not get covered by insurance policies. In fact, it is estimated that 54.5 percent of Illinois residents who have a mental illness do not get treatment, and much of this likely has to do with the cost of said treatment. Many who cannot pay for it end up in hospitals or jails, which can cause further costs to society and the individual.

This may especially be a problem for families struggling with children's mental health costs, which can be significant. One Illinois mother, for example, sent her son to an inpatient facility costing $25,000 per month. Her insurance reportedly covered about $5,000 of the cost, leaving her to pay the rest out of pocket.

While there are some programs, such as Medicaid, that can help those with lower incomes, the future of such programs are unclear in the current political climate. Further, many middle-income families do not qualify for need-based programs, and end up with many thousands of dollars in medical debt. Especially for those with no health insurance, these debts can be astronomical. For those in this situation, bankruptcy or other debt solutions may be the best option, and such individuals may wish to consider speaking with an experienced Illinois attorney.

Source: Daily Herald, "'Sad commentary' on mental health help: Money matters in treatment access," Marie Wilson & Elena Ferrarin, May 23, 2017

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