Could Your Medical Bills Make You Sick?

That debt doesn’t just hurt your bank account—it can harm your health, too. What you must know now.

Devin Barrington-Ward was doubled over with stomach pain. His chest hurt, too. Though his family urged him to call an ambulance and he was terrified that his condition was serious, Barrington-Ward had another concern on his mind: the expense. Uninsured, he knew he couldn’t afford the ambulance ride.

So his mother raced him to a hospital near his home in suburban Atlanta that day in January earlier this year. After several hours in the emergency room, where he saw numerous physicians and got a CT scan and other tests, Barrington-Ward was diagnosed with colitis. Not long after came the bill: almost $10,000. Though his health is better today, he says he’s still saddled with debt, and the side effects of that are significant.