Aug 19, 2020 - Health

People of color struggle to afford health care

Illustration of a ball of crumpled paper evolving into a red cross

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

People of color disproportionately lack stable health insurance and have more trouble affording health care than white Americans, a new survey from the Commonwealth Fund shows.

Why it matters: This is one of the long-standing inequalities the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated.

By the numbers: Overall, 43% of working-age adults did not have stable health insurance coverage, according to the Commonwealth survey, which was conducted over the first six months of the year.

  • 45% of Black Americans reported having problems paying medical bills, compared to 35% of white Americans.
  • More than one-third of Latinx adults, small business workers and people with low incomes were uninsured for at least part of the past year, the survey says.

Even 25% of adults with "adequate coverage" reported having trouble paying medical bills in the past year.

  • The number of Commonwealth considers to be underinsured has doubled in the last 10 years — 46% of privately insured adults now have a deductibles of $1,000 or more.

The bottom line: "Coverage inadequacy is compromising people’s ability to get the care they need and leaving many with medical debt at a moment of widespread health and financial insecurity, and an uncertain future," said Sara Collins, the lead author of the report.

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