Medical Costs Are Hitting Parents Hard, Survey Shows

A mom holding her young daughter in her lap while talking to the doctor in an examination room.

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Medical bills can be a burden for anyone. But new data reveals that parents are struggling a lot.

Key points

  • Many households with children are struggling to keep up with medical costs.
  • A new survey reveals that parents with children may be more apt to work more, raid their savings, and file for bankruptcy than those without kids.

Raising children is hardly an inexpensive endeavor. Having kids means having extra mouths to feed and bodies to clothe, among other things. But one major expense that has the potential to hit parents particularly hard is healthcare.

It's one thing to have to cover your own medical bills and pay your own health insurance premiums. But if you have children, your expenses could really skyrocket.

It's not surprising, then, that households with children may be more impacted by rising medical costs than those without. Here are some of the circumstances parents with children are facing, according to a recent Aflac survey.

Working more hours

Parents with children may have higher healthcare bills and other expenses than those without. And so over the past 12 months, they've been more than twice as likely to have picked up extra hours or shifts at their jobs in an effort to drum up more cash.

Now, the reality is that working more hours may be a tough thing to do, but it's a reasonable approach to dealing with rising medical costs. If your job doesn't offer the option to pick up extra hours or shifts, you can look at getting a side hustle to boost your cash reserves. That side gig can be anything from walking dogs to doing online data entry from home on evenings and weekends.

Raiding retirement plans

Parents with children are nearly twice as likely as people without kids to have tapped their 401(k)s or IRAs over the past 12 months. But that's actually not a great way to come up with the cash to cover medical costs.

Taking an early retirement plan withdrawal to pay for healthcare could result in costly penalties, since IRAs and 401(k)s generally require you to leave your money alone until age 59 1/2. Furthermore, the more money you remove from a retirement plan now, the less you'll have available as a senior, when you might need it the most. And so if you've been struggling with medical costs, it pays to try pursuing a side gig before raiding your long-term savings.

Filing for bankruptcy

When healthcare costs really pile up, they can drive people into bankruptcy. And the aforementioned survey reveals that over the past 12 months, people with children are much more likely to have declared bankruptcy than those without kids.

You might think that bankruptcy is a good escape route if you're drowning in medical bills. But filing for bankruptcy could cause a lot of damage to your credit score and make it difficult to borrow when you need to for many years. And so if you're already loaded with healthcare bills, you may want to consult an attorney or debt settlement firm to see if there are better options.

It's unfortunate that many parents are very burdened with family healthcare bills. Picking up extra work or a side gig could help make those expenses easier to handle -- even though putting in more hours clearly isn't easy when you also have kids to take care of.

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