The American Rescue Plan - the recently-signed, $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package - includes sweeping provisions to expand healthcare, expedite vaccine distributions, reopen schools, aid small business owners and provide renters with financial relief.
Despite this extensive menu, most of the attention the bill has garnered has been focused on the stimulus payments the Treasury Department has already begun issuing.
The reason the payments are grabbing the headlines may be because so many Americans are in such dire need of financial help right now.
For starters, there are between 10 million to 20 million Americans currently unemployed. But the tally of out-of-work Americans tells only part of the story. Most U.S. adults - working or otherwise - are having a hard time staying in front of their financial obligations.
Study after study confirms this.
TransUnion’s ongoing Consumer Pulse Study shows 74 percent of U.S. adults are concerned about falling behind on their bills. Similarly, last Fall, the Pew Research Center determined a quarter of Americans were struggling to keep pace with their bills. And - for those Pew classified as “lower-income” - it’s closer to 50 percent of adults that are scraping by.
Last year, BillGO conducted it’s own survey - How Americans Pay Their Bills - and found 50 percent of American consumers were having trouble paying bills, specifically because of the impact of COVID-19.
Pre- and Post-Pandemic Money Woes
COVID isn’t solely to blame for all of this economic anxiety. Money woes were bearing down on millions of Americans long before the pandemic entered the U.S. psyche in 2020.
In 2019, two-thirds of millennials said they were living paycheck to paycheck. The Federal Reserve found 37 percent of U.S. households lacked the cash needed to cover a $400 household emergency. And nearly 80 million Americans were struggling with crippling healthcare-related debt.
Jump ahead to 2021 and the downbeat economic news continues.
Only weeks ago, tens-of-thousands of Texas residents learned they were looking at a minimum of ten years of unexpected debt due to a $50 billion-plus utility bill that followed a freak February blizzard. As a result, countless Texans are now scrambling to pay down astronomical power bills. (One resident said his electric bill, totaling more than $16,000, cleaned out his life savings.)
It all adds up to an ever-growing list of unsurmountable bills that hold back millions of Americans.
This was one reason BillGO - which is committed to the prospect that everyone deserves access to a healthy financial future - launched its COVID-19 Bill Pay Relief Hub last year.
The goal behind the Hub was to give U.S. consumers a centralized resource they could use to find organizations and financial institutions (FIs) offering financial relief or specialized-payment terms in light of the pandemic. The Hub features an interactive map, filterable by state and industry, and includes a search function to find specific billers. In most cases, consumers are given various payment relief options for each entry, as well as links to the organizations’ websites so they can research further.
One year later, the Hub has gained some serious steam. Not only did it earn recognition as a “Top COVID-19 Response by a Fintech”, it now showcases more than 300 billers and FIs working with consumers burdened by bills.
However, since bill-related financial woes will unfortunately linger long after COVID vaccines are fully available, BillGO has expanded the Hub’s mission to include organizations offering relief beyond COVID-related financial issues. Going forward, it will showcase a wider variety of businesses and FIs providing relief.
If you’re concerned about keeping up with your bills, we invite you to visit the Bill Pay Relief site and discover those organizations offering bill pay relief right now.
If you represent a financial institution or business currently providing economic relief, visit the Hub and hit the “Add Company” button, include some basic information and BillGO will help share your efforts.