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Consumer Guides

The news of the day out of the Senate is Harry Reid’s newly proposed surtax to finance health reform. The provision would increase the Medicare payroll tax on incomes above $250,000, though it is not clear how much higher it would be above the current rate of 1.45%. It is also not clear if the surtax will replace the ‘Cadillac plan’ excise tax, or be an additional revenue stream.

Though this blog is usually devoted to policy analysis and legislative updates, I also felt compelled to include some important resources from Families USA. The organization recently released several useful guides for consumers facing medical debt, which can be accessed below. Over 41% of working age adults had trouble paying health care bills or were paying medical debt in 2007, and over half of bankruptcies are a result of medical debt.

Your Medical Bills: A Consumer’s Guide to Coping with Medical Debt, details the legal rights and primary actions consumers should take to deal with rising medical expenses. The consumer-friendly guide offers step-by-step instructions on dealing with medical bills, beginning with the vital first step of reviewing each bill and learning how to appeal charges that may be inappropriate or should be covered by insurance.

Shortchanged by Medical Debt is a companion fact sheet that reviews the data on who faces problems with medical debt, and highlights that medical debt is a growing problem.

What States are Doing to Protect Consumers spotlights those states that have enacted various consumer protection statutes.