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10 States Struggling To Pay Their Medical Bills

Anyone in North America who's gone to a hospital recently will tell you that medical care is expensive. A visit to the emergency room can easily set you back thousands of dollars in no time - even som

Anyone in North America who's gone to a hospital recently will tell you that medical care is expensive. A visit to the emergency room can easily set you back thousands of dollars in no time - even something as routine as stitches or a broken bone can really put a dent in your finances. When the necessary treatment involves inpatient procedures like major surgery, the prices soar. It's not uncommon for medical bills to reach the tens of thousands of dollars and sometimes even more.

Health insurance is there to help people deal with these costs, but unfortunately not everyone can afford that either. 47 million Americans were uninsured in 2012 and for many who are are working part-time or who can't find work, or even for those who do work but still face prohibitively high premiums to cover their families, health insurance is sometimes just not affordable. In fact, not even close to all of the uninsured in America back in '12 were unemployed. Six in ten of those without insurance have at least one full-time worker in the family, while 16% have a part-time worker in the family.

The uninsured aren't the only ones suffering from a lack of coverage. When someone without insurance seeks medical care, they may be unable to pay their entire bill. To make up for these uncompensated costs, the providers charge more for their services to those who do have health insurance. In turn, health insurance premiums rise for everyone.

What's the solution? Well, many disagree about that. Some people think the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, may help with this lack of coverage and bring health insurance down. Some states have enabled Medicaid expansion, bridging the coverage gap by covering those previously ineligible. Other states have chosen not to expand the program, and some argue that the ACA does more harm than good.

Several states on this list - which enumerates the states most struggling with health care costs - chose to expand Medicaid but, perhaps surprisingly, some struggling states did not. Considering the implementation of the ACA this year, it should be interesting to see where these states rank at the end of 2014. All data provided here comes from a Gallup poll conducted between January 2nd, 2012 through December 29, 2013. The poll asked Americans if there had ever been times over the past 12 months in which they could not afford health care or medicine for their families. These states had the highest number of residents who responded that they did, indeed, have trouble affording these basic, essential services.

11 Texas and Arizona (tied) - 21.0% Struggle With Health Care Costs

10 Florida - 21.1% Struggle With Health Care Costs

9 South Carolina - 21.3%  Struggle With Health Care Costs

8 Oklahoma - 21.7%  Struggle With Health Care Costs

7 Arkansas - 22.3% Struggle With Health Care Costs

6 North Carolina - 22.3% Struggle With Health Care Costs

5 Kentucky - 22.5% Struggle With Health Care Costs

4 Mississippi - 23.2%  Struggle With Health Care Costs

3 West Virginia - 23.8% Struggle With Health Care Costs

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1 Alabama - 24.5% Struggle With Health Care Costs

With about 660,000 uninsured non-elderly citizens, Alabama has the highest number of people unable to afford health insurance. 191,000 of these would have been eligible for health care benefits if the state had expanded Medicaid program. However, unlike West Virginia, the state has decided not to expand Medicaid, leaving many of these people without any other affordable options. Thankfully, there are some higher eligibility levels in place for children, but for many adults, they will most likely have to remain uninsured.

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10 States Struggling To Pay Their Medical Bills