1 in 5 Insured Americans Struggle to Pay Medical Bills, Survey Finds

Even working Americans with broad-based health insurance are not immune to the impact of sky-high healthcare costs, with one in five having problems paying their medical bills in the past year, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the New York Times.

Not surprisingly, the situation is even worse among those who are uninsured: half (53 percent) face problems with medical bills.
The survey found that insured Americans who carry this financial hardship also report a wide range of consequences and sacrifices during the past year, including

  • Delaying vacations or major household purchases (77%),
  • Spending less on food, clothing and basic household items (75%),
  • Using up most or all their savings (63%),
  • Taking an extra job or working more hours (42%),
  • Increasing their credit card debt (38%), borrowing money from family or friends (37%),
  • Changing their living situation (14%), and
  • Seeking the aid of a charity (11%).

Overall, 62 percent of those who had medical bill problems say the bills were incurred by someone who had health coverage at the time (most often through an employer). Of those who were insured when the bills were incurred, three-quarters (75 percent) say that the amount they had to pay for their insurance copays, deductibles, or coinsurance was more than they could afford.
The Kaiser/Times report says: “While insurance provides financial protection, that protection can be incomplete for a number of reasons, including rising deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing, out-of-network charges, the growing complexity of insurance that can leave consumers with unexpected bills, and the fact that many people have only modest financial assets to cover medical expenses.”
Read the survey’s complete results.

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