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Let's talk the reality of medical debt.  It's pretty easy to begin any conversation about debt with looking down your nose and assuming that "personal responsibility" was probably a huge factor in the predicament.  Hindsight is also 20/20 so, walking a mile in the shoes of someone who one day was doing just fine in most or all aspects of life has a dramatic change....like an accident or illness, maybe it's a child who needs long term medical care..."everything is fine" and "personal responsibility" become short lived if there's not adequate insurance or a job loss places people in a place they least expected.  Keeping in mind that 4 in 10 American's can't come up with $400 bucks for an emergency expense....think about how quick things evaporate....and when decisions have to be made about paying bills or losing a residence?

 

The thought of financial disaster is real for just about anyone.  I'll be as open as I can here with ya.  Last summer, I needed a tumor removed at the Mayo Clinic.  It took almost 2 years of travelling back and forth to Rochester....driving and hotel stays, testing, more testing and medicine trials.  One doctor recommending another one and when that doctor sees that something else might be adding to the symptoms, they refer you to another specialist.  When the surgery finally came, more travel, more hotel stays, and the final bill after the surgery.. $42,038.65.  Just for the surgery.  All the expense of getting there was paid in advance of the final bill and yes, thankfully we have adequate insurance to help cover it.  Had we not had the insurance, I'd be living with a tumor.  There would be no other choice. 

On to the idea of medical debt.  While we were able with insurance and planning to be able to handle this, imagine if it was sudden?  Imagine if you started off feeling a "little sick" and then you found out that it was the early inset of a terminal disease?  A broken bone in a fall?  An infection.  An unknown virus the world isn't ready for?  The average cost for an emergency room visit in Michigan is $1273.00.  That's 4x what 4 in 10 Americans can afford.

To help to find ways to reduce this debt is a priority to help address problems in communities in many ways.  Leaving people with decisions over life or death and the idea of treatment vs. food or rent is a weight that no mind should have to bear.  We already know of the housing issues, the food insecurity, the need for clothing and help in so many ways, yet there seems to be a stigma attached to those who need medical care, and can't afford it.  Well, the seminar on Feb 22nd at the VanDyk Mortgage Center is going to help answer questions about that and some of the misconceptions.

Keria Shinedeldeckler is with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and has been a part of the "100 Day Challenge" you may have heard of happening here for a few years in Muskegon.  The result of the team studying this issue in those groups is this afternoon long event that will being in speakers on the topic, those who have had their lives turned upside down and inside out by medical debt and resources to help those in need seek ways to help mitigate these costs.  These costs prevent people from getting more help if needed and the problems....they only continue to "snowball" as life goes on.  To find a way to address this is what this work is about and to connect those who are in need to resources that are offered, that's the goal.  

This is a free seminar in person and, it will be streamed LIVE on the Positively Muskegon Facebook page so you are able to hear from the speakers and guests while it's happening.  If you would like to attend in person, please CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.  It's only so they have an idea for seating needs.  You are welcome to come at the last minute.  If you would like to watch the stream online, simply come to the POSITIVELY MUSKEGON GROUP just ahead of 3p Eastern time on February 22nd for the full program, brought to you by Trinity Health.

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