Report: Medical debt still commonplace

Thursday, January 7, 2016
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

stethoscope and cashA study from The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that even people with health insurance can face "crushing medical debt."

"It's not a surprise to me," Hadley Heath Manning tells OneNewsNow, "and I appreciate the honesty of those writing this report that they at least acknowledge that the so-called Affordable Care Act plays a hand in this."

According to the study, more than half of Americans under the age of 65 who have no insurance struggled to pay their medical bills last year. Approximately one in five with insurance reported likewise.

In America's current healthcare system, says Manning – director of health policy at the Independent Women's Forum – healthcare services and healthcare providers don't really compete on price. Consequently, she continues, there's been a "longstanding tradition of using health insurance to pay for most of the healthcare services we consume."

Manning

"And then when our health insurance doesn't cover as much or when there's more cost-sharing or there are higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, then of course even people who have that type of insurance plan end up with a great share that they're expected to pay out of pocket," she explains.

"That can be very burdensome, depending on the income level or the amount of resources available to people."

According to Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the major impact of medical debt for many people is the ability to pay the rent or the mortgage or to buy food.

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