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Many San Diegans Saddled With Medical Debt

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Aired 8/31/09

One in ten adults in San Diego County is saddled with medical debt. A new report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research reveals medical debt is a problem statewide.

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Above: A new study released by UCLA this week shows that more than 1.4 million Californians incurred medical debt while they were insured.

— One in ten adults in San Diego County is saddled with medical debt. A new report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research reveals medical debt is a problem statewide.

The UCLA report shows 2.2 million Californians have medical bills they have to pay over time. More than 800,000 people in the state have medical debt greater than $2,000.

Dr. Shana Alex Lavarreda co-wrote the study. She says the vast majority of Californians who have medical debt are insured.

"That tells me that people are buying policies that don't necessarily do what insurance policies are supposed to do," Alex Lavarreda said. "Insurance policies are supposed to protect against financial risk, that's the whole point."

Alex Lavarreda said many people buy high deductible plans to save money on premiums. But they can't afford the deductibles when they start racking up medical expenses.

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