Affording Health Care Now a Struggle for Half of Americans: Poll

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

More than half delayed or skipped care because of concerns about costs

By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) — More than half of working-age Americans struggle to afford their health care and many forgo care, possibly risking their health, according to a new survey.

The Commonwealth Fund survey queried more than 7,800 individuals aged 19 years and older between April and July and found that 51 percent of these Americans struggled to afford their health care, with 32 percent living with medical debt. Just over half of those with medical debt incurred it during care for ongoing health conditions, rather than one-time or unexpected health events. About 57 percent said they had delayed or gone without care because of concerns about costs and that they had aggravated health issues because of that.

About 43 percent of people with employer coverage, 45 percent with Medicaid, 51 percent with Medicare, and 57 percent with a marketplace or individual-market plan reported difficulty affording their care.

The numbers are striking. Eighty-five percent of people had medical debt loads of $500 or more. Nearly half carried debt of $2,000 or more. More than two-thirds of those with medical debt said they were making payments directly to providers.

About 38 percent said they had delayed or skipped health care or prescription drugs in the past year because they could not afford the expense. That included 29 percent of those with employer plans. Even more of those who skipped care were covered by individual-market plans (37 percent), Medicaid (39 percent), or Medicare (42 percent).

This led to a pinch in their household budgets, too, according to the report. About 57 percent of working-age adults reported that 10 percent or more of their monthly budget goes toward health care costs. For marketplace enrollees and low-income individuals with employer plans, nearly one-quarter reported allocating 25 percent or more of their monthly budget to health care costs.

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