U.S. Medical Bills Still High With Private Insurance

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U.S. Medical Bills Still High With Private Insurance
U.S. Medical Bills Still High With Private Insurance

(HealthDay News) — Many Americans may believe that private insurance can keep major medical bills at bay, but a new survey finds that one-fifth of people with private plans still spend at least 5% of their income on out-of-pocket health care costs.

The findings, from the research group The Commonwealth Fund, found that 21% of adults with health coverage spent 5% or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs — not including premiums — over the past year, and 13% spent 10% or more. 

The problem was most common among low-income adults, with 41% of those who made less than $11,490 a year spending 5% or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs, and 31% spending 10% or more.

Many low- and moderate-income adults with high out-of-pocket costs skipped needed care or medications, the survey found. 

Among those with yearly incomes of less than $22,980, 46% skipped needed care at least once due to their health plan's copayments or coinsurance; 28% did not fill a prescription; 28% skipped a medical test or follow-up treatment; 30% did not see a doctor when they had a health problem; and 24% did not see a specialist when their doctor recommended seeing one. 

Among people with private insurance who spent at least 5% of their income on out-of-pocket health costs, 40% said they skipped needed care at least once due to their plan deductibles; 29% skipped a medical test or follow-up treatment; 27% did not see a doctor for a health problem; 23% skipped a preventive care test; and 22% did not see a specialist despite their doctor's advice to do so.

Overall, 13% of adults with private health insurance have plans that include a deductible equal to % or more of their income. Forty-three percent of adults said their deductibles are somewhat, very difficult or impossible to afford.

Reference

  1. The Commonwealth Fund. Too High a Price: Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs in the United States. http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2014/nov/out-of-pocket-health-care-costs. Published November 13, 2014. Accessed November 13, 2014.
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