Home Consumer debt Prop. 209 would protect Arizonans from crippling medical debt

Prop. 209 would protect Arizonans from crippling medical debt

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Too many Arizona families are suffering because of emergency medical debt or predatory debt collection practices. I should know – my own family is one of them.

When I was 15, I was a passenger in a car that had an accident. I woke up in the hospital after several days in a coma and my life changed. I had suffered severe neurological and muscle damage, which required treatment into adulthood.

I ended up with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills – with no way to pay them. My credit rating suffered and I ended up relying on Habitat for Humanity for housing.

You may think your family is economically secure, but an unexpected diagnosis of a chronic illness or a sudden medical emergency can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, even if you have insurance.

Proposition 209 could save your house, your car

According to a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, almost two-thirds of all bankruptcies are related to medical debt.

This is why am i voting yes on Proposition 209, the law on protection against the collection of predatory debts. It protects the people of Arizona by further protecting our assets and property from debt collectors and by limiting the interest rate on medical debt to 3% per year.

The measure limits outrageous interest rates on medical debt so families aren’t trapped in an endless cycle. In addition to limiting the interest rate on medical debt, it also protects families from losing their homes by increasing the homestead exemption, already in Arizona lawat $400,000.

This means that your primary residence will be protected from debt collectors. Proposition 209 also increases the value of household assets protected from creditors to $15,000, protects a vehicle worth up to $15,000, and protects up to $5,000 held in a bank account.

Another view:Misleading Proposition 209 Goes Far Beyond Medical Debt

The measure would also adjust these amounts annually for inflation and add protection against wage garnishment on all debt collections. This is because people who incur medical debt may also be behind on credit card bills, mortgages, and other debts.

Arizona has few consumer protections

The truth is that a chronic illness or sudden medical emergency can cost families tens of thousands of dollars, even with insurance.

When someone can’t pay right away, medical debt collectors can raise interest rates up to 10% a year, take out a family’s home or car, and lower credit scores to make debt repayment more difficult.

The National Consumer Law Centerwhich assesses state debt collection laws, gives the laws of Arizona a letter grade of D for consumer protection.

People shouldn’t have to worry about losing their homes if they get sick or face heavy medical bills. Especially when about two-thirds of all bankruptcies are related to debts related to health care costs, we should strive to do better.

The Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act is a common-sense policy designed to fix a broken medical debt system — and help anyone who may one day need more expensive care than they can afford.

Liz Gorski is a small business owner and a member of Healthcare Rising Arizona, which is the lead supporter of Proposition 209. She lives in Prescott. Join her at [email protected].