Medical debt results from the high or unexpected health care expenses that an individual is unable to pay. Unlike other debts, medical debts are usually unplanned, two-thirds of medical debts are the result of a one-time or short-term medical expense arising from acute healthcare needs. An increasing number of Americans are finding unexpected healthcare costs unaffordable, while many are delaying required care due to costs. It is a significant and growing problem in the United States where public health insurance coverage is limited to certain groups of people, mainly through Medicare and Medicaid. In contrast, people in Western Europe and other developed countries like Japan and Australia benefit from some form of universal health coverage that protects them from unaffordable health care costs.
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