Spending

An Unexpected Medical Expense Could Cost Millions of Us Even More in 2017

Stacy Rapacon

Number of the week: 41 percent.

That’s how many Americans reported having enough savings to cover a common unexpected expense like a car or home repair or medical issue, in a new Bankrate survey. On the bright side: That’s actually a slight improvement over last year’s results, when only 37 percent could.

So, what? Fifty-nine percent is still a lot of Americans. If millions of us don’t have $500 to spare when the inevitable surprise pops up, it’s probably going on a credit card. Which means we may be paying it off for awhile—and paying interest, too.

Bottom line: The standard advice is to save enough in an emergency fund to cover essential expenses (think: rent, utilities, medication and groceries) for three to six months.

But anything is better than nothing, right? Even $50 a month gets the ball rolling. Pew Trusts says squirreling away $2,000 should be enough to cover an unexpected emergency for most people.

Speaking of Unexpected Medical Expenses…

The future of Obamacare is not looking good. Last week, President-elect Donald Trump held his first press conference since the election, and covered a wide range of topics. Among them: his plans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) ASAP.

So, what? Congress has now taken the first step to make good on that promise—passing a bill allowing them to gut the health care law even if there’s opposition from some Democratic lawmakers.

Bottom line: About 20 million are currently covered by Obamacare. While he’s promised to dismantle the program, Trump has vowed that there will still be “insurance for everybody,” though he hasn’t revealed many details yet on how that will happen.

Here are some changes that we can expect, though, once Obamacare is dismantled: Millions of people will likely lose insurance coverage, we’ll no longer have mandates requiring it—and taxes will likely go down for wealthy households (which are now paying Obamacare-related surcharges).

Many of the most popular provisions—the allowance for keeping adult kids on parents’ plans (phew), free preventative services and the requirement to offer fair coverage to those with pre-existing conditions—are also likely safe, fortunately.

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