Americans Bankrupted By Health Care Costs: 4 Questions Answered


Published:

Medical bankruptcy has been a talking point for many Democratic candidates as they make their individual cases for health care reform. This begs a few questions about how widespread these bankruptcies are and what causes them.

1. How big a problem is medical bankruptcy?

Medical bankruptcy, which refers to situations where individuals were forced into bankruptcy because of medical bills, loss of income due to sickness or accident, or both, is widespread in the U.S.

While the exact contribution of medical bills to the number of bankruptcies is difficult to determine, one important study prior to the Affordable Care Act found that medical debt was the single biggest contributor to bankruptcies for well over 60% of Americans.

Even today, while the overall number of bankruptcies has been cut in half over the last decade to roughly 750,000 in 2018, a recent study indicated that two-thirds of bankruptcies are connected to medical bills.

It is interesting to note that the concept of medical bankruptcy is entirely alien to Europeans.

2. How did the Affordable Care Act help?

Individuals have gained coverage via the Medicaid expansion, their parents’ insurance or the insurance marketplaces. Moreover, other ACA insurance regulations have added protections for all Americans with insurance.

3. Who’s still vulnerable?

Close to 30 million Americans remain uninsured. While a significant number are eligible for varying degrees of public support, the refusal by many states to expand their Medicaid programs creates challenges. It is important to note that while the ACA expanded coverage to millions, it did little to reign in the biggest contributor to medical bankruptcy: high medical costs.

Even Americans with insurance are not immune from the specter of medical bills. While the ACA limited deductibles and out-of-pocket payments, many insurance plans still require consumers to pay tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Similarly concerning, many Americans may incur bills ranging in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from so-called surprise bills.

Inaccurate provider directories can compound these problems, misleading patients to believe they seek care from a provider in their network.

Finally, evidence from ACA and commercial plans as well Medicare Advantage has highlighted problems with regard to “artificial local provider deserts,” situations in which providers are located in the area but excluded from the network. These situations might force patients into seeking costly out-of-network care fully aware of the potential financial consequences.

4. How do concerns about medical costs affect Americans beyond medical bankruptcy?

Half of Americans have less than US$1,000 in savings.

This lack of financial security has implications for how Americans access medical care. A study found that costs have kept 64% of Americans from seeking medical care. Millions of Americans are skipping their medications for the same reason.

Avoiding needed medical care often has implications for people’s health and well-being. Of course, it may also ultimately force them to seek care in more expensive settings, like emergency departments or at advanced stages of the disease.

[ Like what you’ve read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversation’s daily newsletter. ]The Conversation

Simon F. Haeder, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Pennsylvania State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

See also:
Future Doctors Rising Up For 'Medicare For All'
Medical Student Prescribes Remedy Our Sick System Needs

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

April 4, 2020

The waxing but void of course Leo Moon offers numerous opportunities for exploring one’s creative side. If inspiration falters, imagine yourself as a young child. Ask her or him to make a request. This may seem fanciful to some folks but listening to the…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2020

In this time of social distancing, it's important to make time and create new habits around maintaining your wellness. In support of that, we have gathered over 30 professionals who have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, NH


Sponsor: Ramsay Media LLC
Contact Name: Paul Ramsay
Website »

More information

"When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need" A whopping 70 million people in the US suffer from some digestive issue, from constipation to...

Cost: $40 till 3/25 ($45 after)

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reconceptualizing Mental Health Treatment through Radical Compassion: A Personal Narrative of an Asian American Woman with Pata Suyemoto, PhD **PLEASE NOTE - This lecture will only be held...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Website »

More information

Join us for Monday Morning Meditation and discover the serenity and silence within your own being. This group is designed for people who are new to meditation and looking to explore the benefits...

Cost: $15

Where:
Moth & Moon Studio
173 South River Rd
Suite #4
Bedford, NH  03110
View map »


Sponsor: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Contact Name: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

April 1–May 27 With Yasemin Isler, MA and Juan José Miret, Ph.D. Why take Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)? To better manage your stress and enhance...

Cost: $600–$650

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Telephone: 617-591-6132
Website »

More information

Enrollment begins April 1 with special early-bird pricing for a limited time only!  Classes are October 2020 through May 2021 Faust Family Constellations presents The Constellation...

Where:
750 Pleasant St
Belmont, MA  02478
View map »


Contact Name: Jamy and Peter Faust
Website »

More information

12 month program starts April 1 Whether you're local or not, this could be a great choice for you, to join a community of like minded people and build out your knowledge, command, and...

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Crystal Concentrics
Contact Name: Kyle Russell
Website »

More information

30-DAY VIRTUAL TRAINING A Journey to Release Core Patterns and Open to Your Soul’s Purpose Is it possible that this forced time in isolation might be a perfect gift from the universe to...

Cost: Early Bird Discount $297

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Rhys Thomas Institute
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Shocked and upset about the COVID-19 pandemic? Get Relief… Are you experiencing intense anxiety, fear, stress and negative thoughts you can't seem to control about: Losing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Healing From the Body Level Up
Telephone: 781-444-6940
Contact Name: Judith A. Swack Ph.D.
Website »

More information

In these unprecedented times of uncertainty and fear all around, what foundation and practices can I rely on, to keep me calm, creative, peaceful, courageous? Join this session for a beginners...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Brahma Kumaris Learning Center for Peace
Telephone: (617) 926-1230
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

Join a like-minded community working toward personal awakening in relation to family, ancestry and Soul agreements. Through the processes of family constellations, energy medicine and evolutionary...

Cost: $175

Where:
750 Pleasant St
Belmont, MA  02478
View map »


Contact Name: Jamy and Peter Faust
Website »

More information

Maintaining your inner stability is more important than ever during these challenging times. Learn techniques and meditation practices that will help keep your mind stable and peaceful. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Brahma Kumaris Learning Center for Peace
Telephone: (617) 926-1230
Website »

More information

This meditation is the exact moment of the Jupiter Pluto conjunction on April 4th/5th, which will be the first moment that a powerful energy of the Age of Aquarius shines on the surface of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, MA


Website »

More information

April 4–5 Wake up to your cosmic consciousness and discoveryour duties to the stars, to the light, and to beloved Mother Earth. Joan Ruggiero shows you how to merge with your higher self,...

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, #1A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Begins April 4 For Mental Health Professionals and Yoga Teachers, Students Yoga-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Y-CBT) is a new research based psychological paradigm that combines the...

Cost: See website

Where:
Available Remotely
, MA


Sponsor: Yoga At The Ashram
Telephone: 508-376-4525
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags