Jan 15, 2020

Many Americans still can't afford medical expenses

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Reproduced from Gallup; Note: ±4 percentage point margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

The latest poll from Gallup shows more Americans are putting off medical care because of the cost.

Why it matters: Despite a declining unemployment rate and growing GDP, an increasing number of Americans say they are forgoing often necessary medical procedures because of the cost.

  • The number of people putting off medical care because of cost began to decline in 2014, but in 2018 picked up again substantially.
  • Last year's study found the highest number of people putting off care for a serious condition in the history of the study, by a wide margin.

Watch this space: A separate study conducted by the American Cancer Society in May found 56% of U.S. adults have had at least one medical financial hardship.

  • Robin Yabroff, lead author of the American Cancer Society study, told The Guardian that Gallup's poll was “consistent with numerous other studies documenting that many in the United States have trouble paying medical bills."

Between the lines: 2014 was the year many of the Affordable Care Act's major changes became law.

  • Federal subsidies for health insurance went into effect, providing them to individuals earning less than 400% of the poverty level.
  • Small business tax credits took effect, covering up to 50% of premiums.
  • The rollback on bans for preexisting conditions took effect. 
  • The requirement for individuals to buy health insurance began.

The Trump administration has rolled back a number of these changes, most notably the individual requirement to buy health insurance, and has cut funding for many of its programs.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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