Dec 14, 2018

The financial impact of big medical bills

Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

In any given year, one in six families will make an "extraordinary health care payment," according to a new study in Health Affairs.

Details: An "extraordinary" payment is defined as a payment of at least $400 and 1% of annual income, as well as being significantly above the family's average monthly health care spending.

  • Between 2013 and 2015, these payments averaged more than $2,000.
  • They also had a lasting impact on the family's finances: A year after making the payment, liquid assets were still down by 2% and credit card balances up by 9%.

In the two months before making these payments, families' cash balances increased by 5% and their take-home income jumped by 4%, suggesting that people either saved in anticipation of expensive medical care or delayed care until they had enough money to pay for it.

  • Out-of-pocket health care spending increased by 60% the week after families received a tax refund.
  • Of health care spending associated with tax refunds, 62% was made for care likely received that day, meaning that care itself was deferred — not just the payment for it.

The bottom line: Many conditions deteriorate the longer they go unaddressed, ultimately making them harder and more expensive to treat. But, financial pressures still force people to wait.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 1,203,923 — Total deaths: 64,795 — Total recoveries: 247,273Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 312,237 — Total deaths: 8,502 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest" time "between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. deaths are expected to continue to rise during this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health