Fewer families struggling to pay medical bills, survey finds
- Fewer people are having trouble paying medical bills, a recent National Center for Health Statistics survey found.
- The survey found 16% of people under 65 in families had problems paying medical bills in the first half of 2017, down from 21.3% in 2011.
- About 17% of children ages 0-17 in families had trouble paying medical bills during the same time period, down from 23.2%
The results, while not surprising, quantify the effect health coverage can have on a person's ability to pay medical bills. The survey found the uninsured were most likely to have trouble paying medical bills, followed by those on federal programs, then the privately insured.
The rate of insured increased after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed. Nearly 20 million people gained coverage from 2010 to 2015, according to the Urban Institute. The rate of insured is likely to decrease, however, as Congress rolls back the ACA. Repeal of the individual mandate, set to pass with a tax overhaul bill, could lead to 14 million people losing coverage by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
There's still a fair amount of uncertainty regarding the future of the individual market and how individual mandate repeal could affect the markets. In addition, the rise of high deductible health plans could cause patients to think about the care they consume and/or forgo services.
- National Center for Health Statistics Problems Paying Medical Bills Among Persons Under Age 65: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, 2011–June 2017
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