Having a huge credit card balance has long been seen as a cause of stress, but this type of financial burden could be endangering your overall wellbeing as well.
Many of us give very little thought to swiping the plastic each day, but as soon as the dollars begin to pile up on the end of month bill, your long-term health could be at risk.
A recent study carried out by a team of scientists at the University of Michigan found that individuals who are ill and do not seek treatment due to the financial implications are more likely to have credit card debts than any other form of arrears.
The results revealed that 64 per cent of those people who were ill, but hope their ailments will naturally improve instead of paying for medical help were indebted to credit card companies. This was an even higher percentage of Americans than those who are already saddled with existing medical debts.
Co-author of the study, which was entitled Debt and Forgone Medical Care and published in the April 2013 Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Dr Lucie Kalousova said the association of credit card debts with the discontinuation of ongoing medical treatment was stronger than that seen by student loans, housing loans or car loans.
She explained that her and her team had calculated the odds of forgone medical care for a person with credit card debt were 1.89 times those of the odds of an individual without any credit card debt. Furthermore, there was also a correlation between the amount of the debt and the chances that a person would not pay for medical assistance in the future – even if they had valuable assets to their name.
The team hypothesised that bad debts – so-called because of the higher interest rates associated with them – such as credit card debts are accumulated during times of personal distress and due to their unplanned nature, they may mount up quicker than people can repay them and as a result they become more likely to resort to drastic measures.
Dr Kalousova said that people with this type of financial burden may be under more pressure to repay them to avoid interest and hence look to save money – even if they really need the medical care.
Although the results were gathered in 2009 from 914 residents of southeastern Michigan, the sociologists believe the conclusions were reasonably representative of Americans as a whole. Dr Kalousova stressed that they had no reason to believe that the results were exclusive to Michigan and would likely be repeated in other parts of the country.
Debt Legal’s Jonathan Matthews has more than a decade’s experience helping people get out of debt and has seen firsthand the health problems caused by money issues.
He said: “Usually, anxiety is a big problem, but money shouldn’t rule your life. People need to try to keep their budgets under control and if it gets to the point where you are forgoing medical treatment to save money, you should really seek financial aid.”
Jonathan Matthews has over a decade’s experience helping people get out of debt. As a senior debt advisor for some of the UK’s biggest debt management firms he has accumulated many skills and expertise, which he now likes to pass on via blogs.