Regions Next Step financial wellness program offers no-cost
tools to help people navigating medical financial hardship
Regions Bank on Tuesday announced the results of a new medical
financial hardship survey that finds people are not financially
prepared to cover medical expenses or pay off medical debt, despite
perhaps thinking they are prepared.
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Regions Bank on Tuesday announced the
results of a new medical financial hardship survey that finds
people are not financially prepared to cover medical expenses or
pay off medical debt, despite perhaps thinking they are prepared.
(Graphic: Business Wire)
The survey was conducted by Regions Next Step, the bank’s
no-cost financial education program that serves people of all ages,
regardless of whether they bank with Regions. According to the
survey, six in 10 (59%) people are confident they could cover
regular and expected medical costs like co-pays and deductibles.
Nearly the same number (56%) feel similarly about unexpected
medical costs like out-of-network charges and prescriptions.
Despite this, the survey finds many people are not able to cover
medical bills when they are due. Two in five people have
experienced an unexpected medical event in the last year and, among
those, seven in 10 found it difficult to pay for it. Younger
respondents were among the most likely to have trouble paying.
Additionally, more than one in three people (35%) have medical
debt, and an overwhelming majority (82%) are struggling to resolve
it. Among those with medical debt, seven in 10 respondents had debt
that is either overdue or in collections. Women and those with
household incomes lower than $100,000 were most likely to carry
this debt, according to the survey.
Further, medical expenses and debt are taking a toll on peoples’
savings. Due to the cost of medical bills in the last year, nearly
one-quarter of Americans has either used all their savings to cover
the expenses or has been contacted by a collection agency due to
Results also show there are knowledge gaps when it comes to
options for tackling medical debt. Approximately half of
respondents (54%) do not know how to obtain debt relief for medical
bills, use a health savings account or flexible spending account to
cover costs (49%) or negotiate a medical bill (48%).
“Medical events can be traumatic and unpredictable – and the
resulting debt can add greater stress to the healing process. Being
prepared beforehand and knowing how to address medical debt can
make a significant difference to staying on track with your
finances,” said Joye Hehn, Next Step financial education manager
for Regions Bank. “Regions is committed to providing resources and
information that can help families manage health care-related
expenses and keep their financial goals within reach during a
Additional key findings of the survey include:
- One in three Americans has delayed going to the doctor or
scheduling a procedure because of money concerns related to an
unexpected medical event. Another one in five has skipped a
recommended medical test or treatment altogether.
- For those with medical debt, 75% said daily expenses, such as
food, clothing and transportation, were the greatest barriers to
repayment. Other barriers included:
- Housing payments (53%)
- The financial impact of the pandemic (42%)
- When asked how they would cover an emergency medical expense
around $1,000, 20% said emergency savings. Another 21% said credit
card, and another 19% said cash.
Regions Bank is highlighting free resources that are available
year-round to help people prepare and stay in control of their
finances when medical costs arise. This includes a series of
medical financial hardship courses available in the expanded Next
Step library of resources. These courses provide tips for
negotiating medical bills, preventing bankruptcy, managing
out-of-pocket health care costs and obtaining debt relief.
“During the pandemic, many Americans found themselves without
work or insurance coverage, putting a strain on their ability to
pay off old medical debt or manage new expenses. Even as the
pandemic eases, many still struggle with this debt,” said Wendi
Boyen, community advocacy and financial wellness manager for
Regions Bank. “At Regions, our commitment is to provide resources
and financial education people need to successfully manage whatever
comes their way. I’m proud of the work the team at Regions has done
to raise awareness and provide valuable resources to address this
critical issue impacting our communities.”
Regions Next Step also recommends the following tips:
- Negotiate expenses with medical providers. When expenses
are not covered by insurance, negotiate with the health care
provider for a lower fee or longer payment timeframe. Providers may
settle the debt for less than the amount owed if a lump-sum payment
if made. Alternatively, providers may set up an interest-free
payment plan. Learn more tips about medical payments in this
- Look for ways to keep medical costs down. Thoroughly
review medical bills for errors or overcharges before paying
because finding and disputing errors can potentially save money.
Additionally, prices can vary across providers and insurers, so
shop around for the best rates and options. Some employers offer a
Flexible Savings Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA), so
consider enrolling in this benefit. Both types of accounts allow
people with health insurance to set aside money to help cover
“qualified medical expenses,” which may include deductibles, copays
and prescription costs. Learn more about these strategies and other
tips for managing out-of-pocket healthcare costs by taking this
Next Step Course.
- Build or maintain an emergency savings fund. Build an
emergency savings fund with a goal of six months of living expenses
to help offset a medical emergency expense. Calculate how much you
need to save to reach it and start setting aside that money each
month or paycheck. Once funds are used, be sure to replenish it.
Check out this article for more tips on building your emergency
- Create a debt payment plan. Getting debt under control
takes planning and discipline. Start by determining how much is
owed and create an accurate, realistic budget. Decide how much
income can be put toward debt each month and commit to making those
payments. Try to pay more than the minimum payment each month, and
pay on time to avoid late fees. Use this Regions calculator to
create a debt payoff plan.
- Explore debt relief options. Research debt relief
services and decide what may be the best fit. Explore requirements
to qualify, associated fees and tax implications. Consider debt
management programs, debt settlement, transferring debt or debt
consolidation loans. Take this Next Step Course to learn about
these options and more.
For more, visit www.Regions.com/NextStepMedicalHardship, or
visit any Regions branch to speak with an associate.
The Regions Next Step omnibus survey questions were part of a
national online survey that took place between Aug. 17, 2022 – Aug.
29, 2022. The survey reached 1,606 U.S. adults. The results are
weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (18+).
About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $158 billion in
assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the
nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial
banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services.
Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and
through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,300
banking offices and more than 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal
Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about
Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at
About Regions Next Step®
Regions Next Step is the financial education program from
Regions Bank, offering a free collection of action-oriented tips,
tools and resources. Next Step is designed to simplify financial
topics, help people of all ages and business of varying sizes stay
on track and meet financial goals. Resources are available online,
in-person, virtually, and in English and Spanish. In 2021, Next
Step provided financial education to more than 1.4 million people
across the company’s footprint, delivered approximately 124,000
financial wellness workshops, received 2.4 million financial
education content page views and associates completed 7,000
financial education volunteer hours. Additional information and
resources are available at Regions.com/NextStep.
version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221129005180/en/
Jennifer Elmore Regions Bank (205) 264-4551
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