A traumatic brain injury and $500k in medical debt: 'It feels unbearable sometimes'

A year ago, Deborah Mais was a passenger in a morning car wreck in College Station, Texas, that left her with a traumatic brain injury and a growing pile of seemingly insurmountable medical bills.

The out-of-pocket costs for her care now total well over $500,000. The debt has become so overwhelming, she’s stopped opening the bills when they arrive.

“My life changed that day,” said Mais, who’s since lost her home, her car and the ability to care for her three children, who are currently staying with a relative. She suffers from anxiety and depression.

“It feels unbearable sometimes,” she said.

Deborah Mais sits on her mom’s couch, surrounded by her medical bills on Oct. 26 in College Station, Texas. Thirteen percent of U.S. adults have past-due medical bills.

Logan Hannigan-Downs, Bryan College Station Eagle

Mais isn’t alone. One in every five people in Texas has medical debt that is in collections, one of the highest rates in the U.S.; medical debt has become a nationwide crisis, with 13% of U.S. adults impacted by past-due medical bills, according to data collected by the Urban

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