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Are Health Care Costs Affordable to Most Americans?

Old Man's Hospital Bill Gives Him A Heart Attack

Many Americans are struggling to cope with the rising cost of health care.  Recent findings by The Commonwealth Fund show that Americans’ confidence in their ability to afford their health care continues to deteriorate as the cost of health care escalates.

This year, 62 percent of adults told The Commonwealth Fund they were confident they could afford their health care if they became ill or injured, down from 70 percent in 2015. Nearly one in four Americans said health care had become harder to afford.

“Uninsured adults are the least confident in their ability to pay medical bills,” the report found. “But the risk of high out-of-pocket health care costs doesn’t end when someone enrolls in a health plan. The proliferation and growth of high-deductible health plans in both the individual and employer insurance markets is leaving people with unaffordable health care costs.”

The group with the most confidence about their health insurance and the ability to pay for an unexpected medical bill are people with employment-based health plans; the least confident group included those enrolled in Medicare and people with preexisting medical conditions.

Unexpected medical bills can take a toll on both uninsured and insured Americans. The percentage of consumers not paying their hospital bills in full has increased in recent years, according to an analysis from TransUnion Healthcare.  Since last year, approximately 68 percent of consumers with medical bills of $500 or less did not pay the total balance, an increase from 53 percent of consumers in 2015 and 49 percent in 2014.

“There are many reasons why more patients are struggling to make their health care payments in full, the most prominent of which are higher deductibles and the increase in patient responsibility from 10 percent to 30 percent over the last few years,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal for health care revenue cycle management at TransUnion.

TransUnion health care also projects these challenges could continue in the future, speculating that the percentage of consumers not paying their total hospital bills will increase to 95 percent by 2020.  “With millions of dollars in unpaid medical debt, hospitals have begun implementing new processes to prevent revenue leakage while also providing a better patient experience,” said John Yount, vice president for health care products.

More information: https://bit.ly/2MxTxxy

 

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