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Survey Finds One In Five Americans Juggling Medical Bills


Americans continue to struggle to pay their medical bills, and even the 2010 health care overhaul may not ease their financial burden.

A new survey from the Center for Studying Health System Change and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows the percentage of American families having difficulty paying their medical bills did not increase from 2007 to 2010, despite the economic downturn during that period. But the proportion with medical bill-paying difficulty in 2010 was more than one-third higher than in a similar survey in 2003. Overall, the national study shows that one in five Americans reported trouble paying medical bills last year.

One of the co-authors of the study, Anna Sommers, says these proportions, while dramatic, aren’t that surprising considering the way consumers spend money in a downturn economy. “During a recession we expect [people] to have more medical debt, more medical bill problems, but we have to remember there are recessionary effects on health care spending and health care prices. When income falls, there is a lower demand for health care. Economics tells us that more income yields more demand for health care. So when people have less disposable income, there is less of a demand for health care.”

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Source: Kaiser Health News

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