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Even Insured Americans Are Struggling


January 5, 2016 – The Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times survey provides an in depth look at the experiences of Americans who have problems paying medical bills.


For the uninsured, lack of coverage can limit access to care and leave them vulnerable to exorbitant medical bills. Health insurance provides some financial protection, that protection can be incomplete due to rising deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing. Indeed, among working-age Americans with health insurance, one in five (20%) report having problems paying medical bills in the past year.


The impact of rising healthcare costs is staggering for many American families; this according to a Kaiser Family Foundation / New York Times survey of 2,575 adults ages 18-64, including 1,204 who reported problems paying medical bills. The Times’ coverage can be found here and here, and the full report, detailing the survey’s results and implications, may be downloaded here.


The survey’s findings suggest that, more often than not, insurance fails as a safety net. As the Times’ Margot Sanger-Kats writes, “Health plans often require hundreds or thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket payments—sums that can create a cascade of financial troubles for the many households living paycheck to paycheck.”


For healthcare professionals, the survey’s findings reinforce the idea that cost is increasingly limiting the quality of care that we are able to deliver—even to those with insurance. Among those who had trouble paying medical bills, 43% report skipping doctor-recommended tests or treatments and 41% admit to not filling a prescription.

Read the Kaiser Foundation press release here:

“One in Five Working-Age Americans With Health Insurance Report Problems Paying Medical Bills.”