Idahoans Being Arrested and Jailed Over Medical Debt
Struggling to pay your medical bills can happen to anyone. I had a $375,000 back surgery in 2014 and had I not had good insurance it would have crippled me. Now, imagine being thrown in jail over not being able to pay these outrageous medical bills. That exact thing is happening right here in Idaho.
It happened to Steven Krueger after he had back surgery in 2006. His wife Mari heard a knock at the door and behind that knock was Medical Recovery Services, an Idaho Falls Debt Collection Company there to take Steven to the courthouse on a civil arrest.
Mari admits to eastidahonews.com that they were way behind on their medical bills. They had both suffered serious illnesses, but Mari says she was often on the phone with debt collectors explaining their situation. The debt collectors were not so understanding.
When Steven was ordered to court he couldn't even drive himself and was in a "turtle-shell" brace from his back surgery. The attorney took one look at him and knew he couldn't work, but the couple says they were left feeling like criminals. They were able to work out a $25/month payment plan to keep them out of jail, but they ended up having to file bankruptcy before Steven's death in 2017.
The Krueger's are far from the only Idahoans facing such a crisis. A woman from Blackfoot, who wants to remain anonymous, says she was arrested for a $950 bill she had no idea about.
People who are not arrested face seizure of assets or liens on their property. On top of already mounting medical bills, these people now face attorney's fees and interest.
Being thrown in jail, some people end up losing their jobs which complicates the problem. People who have been through such a humbling experience would like to see reform in debt collection laws in Idaho but it's a tough battle to win.
So what's the answer?
Should people who are way behind on medical debt be thrown into jail?