- Despite declining rates of uninsured patients under Obamacare, U.S. hospitals continue to struggle with bad debt, Becker’s Hospital Review reported.
- The problem is due, in part, to an increase in high deductible health plans that require patients to pay the first several thousand dollars of care out of pocket each year.
- Unpaid care has hit rural hospitals especially hard, according to Bloomberg Business.
A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in the first nine months of 2015, 28.8 million people of all ages (9.1%) were uninsured, compared with 36 million in 2014 and 44.8 million in 2013. In the 18-64 age group, the rate of uninsured dropped to 12.9% from 16.3% the previous year.
During the same time, however, 36.2% of people under age 65 were enrolled in an HDHP. From 2010 through September 2015, the percentage of people enrolled in HDHPs grew from 17.6% to 23.1%, while the percentage enrolled in consumer-directed health plans — HDHPs with a health savings account — grew from 7.7% to 13.2%.
The change in HDHP growth between 2014 and 2015, however, was essentially flat.
Hospitals are reporting rising rates of bad debt. Franklin, TN-based Community Health Systems adjusted its 2015 fourth quarter results to account for $169 million in bad debt.