Health care expenses forced 8 million Americans into poverty in 2018, according to the Census Bureau.
The big picture: That's actually an improvement from the past several years, when an annual average of 11 million people fell into poverty because of medical costs — a reflection of the country's expensive system.
How it works: The Census Bureau tracks how various social programs and daily expenses influence poverty rates.
- Social Security, SNAP benefits and housing subsidies are among the most effective anti-poverty programs.
- But year after year, medical expenses remain "the largest contributor to increasing the number of individuals in poverty," according to the Census Bureau.
- Most people who have insurance and who make less than 150% of the federal poverty level don't have enough liquid assets to cover a $1,500 deductible.
The bottom line: People who don't have insurance have the highest risk of falling into poverty, due to the high prices of drugs and procedures.
- But even working Americans who have coverage are facing bleaker financial futures because employers have shifted more health care costs onto their shoulders.