Oct 26, 2023 - Health

Health care unaffordable even for insured Americans: survey

Data: The Commonwealth Fund; Chart: Axios Visuals

As health care costs continue to rise, more than half of working-age Americans said they've struggled to afford care this year, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey.

Why it matters: The survey is the latest evidence of how people with insurance are struggling to pay medical bills, forcing them to forgo or delay needed care.

By the numbers: Nearly a third of adults reported having medical or dental debt, and nearly half of them said it's at least $2,000.

  • Some 57% said at least one-tenth of their monthly budget goes toward health care.
  • Forty-three percent of those in employer-sponsored health insurance, which is the largest source of insurance coverage in the U.S., said they had difficulty affording care.
  • Of those with insurance, people who bought their own coverage — including on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces — had the toughest time affording care (57%).
  • "We found that insurance did not appear to protect many people sufficiently from the budget squeeze," said Commonwealth vice president Sara Collins, the lead study author.
  • Uninsured adults still report the highest rates of being unable to afford health care and accruing medical debt.

High health care costs are making Americans sicker, the survey found.

  • Almost 40% of adults reported skipping or putting off health care in the past year because they couldn't afford it. Of this group, 57% said their health worsened as a result.
  • About 3 in 10 adults said health care costs made it harder to pay for food and utilities, regardless of their coverage status.

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