Both the high cost of health care and inadequate health insurance coverage are undermining the financial security of millions of Americans, according to a new Fund analysis. Based on results from the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, an estimated 77 million Americans struggle with medical bills, have recent or accrued medical debt, or both.
In Seeing Red: Americans Driven into Debt by Medical Bills, Fund researchers Michelle M. Doty, Ph.D., Jennifer N. Edwards, Dr.P.H, and Alyssa L. Holmgren report that while medical bill problems and debt are experienced most often by the uninsured, even many working-age adults who are continually insured have problems paying their medical bills and have medical debt. The study also found that working-age adults incur significantly higher rates of medical bills and debt than adults 65 and older.
These financial burdens ultimately affect the likelihood that people will get the care they need. About 63 percent of those reporting medical bill problems or medical debt went without needed care because of the cost, compared with 19 percent of adults without any medical bill problems or debt.