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Many U.S. Families Struggle to Pay Medical Bills
Date:3/7/2012

es that had medical bills they couldn't pay.
  • Those 65 and over who were poor or near poor were more than three times as likely as people who were not poor to live in families that struggled to pay medical bills in the past year.
  • Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance at the Commonwealth Fund in New York City, said that "this is consistent with the trends we are seeing."

    The number of people without health insurance, now some 50 million, has increased along with rapidly rising health care costs, she said.

    In addition, many people have high deductibles and co-pays and skimpy coverage, Collins said.

    "This underscores the reason we need health care reform," she said. "The coverage expansions will be critical in terms of insuring people who don't have health insurance, and helping to make health care affordable."

    People without health insurance are likely to put off care until they are very ill, Collins said.

    "We know that people who don't have health insurance get care at about 50 percent of the rate as people with health insurance," she said. "So, if you don't have health insurance you are going to delay care."

    Sixty percent of people without insurance delay or avoid going to the doctor when they are sick because of costs, she added.

    More information

    For more about health insurance, visit the Commonwealth Fund.

    SOURCES: Robin A. Cohen, Ph.D., statistician, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sara Collins, vice president for Affordable Health Insurance, Commonwealth Fund, New York City; March 7, 2012, CDC report, Financial Burden of Medical Care: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January to June 2011


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