Even with health insurance American’s can find themselves with large amounts of medical debt. A 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that, “one in five working age Americans with health insurance report problems with paying medical bills. Half of people without health insurance report problems with medical bills.” Some issues the study found were:
- Those in higher deductible plans were more likely to report issues
- 61% of those with medical bill issues had problems paying other bills as a result
- 75% say that the amount they had to pay for their insurance copays, deductibles or coinsurance was more than they could afford
- A quarter said they received unexpected claim denials
- A third said they received care from an out of network provider not covered by insurance
- 69% were unaware that the provider was not in their plans network when they received care.
- 31% say the total reached at least $5,000, with 13% saying that the total reached at least $10,000. 24% say their bills totaled less than $1,000.
- About six in ten (61 percent) of those who’ve had problems paying medical bills say they either just meet their basic expenses (43 percent) or don’t have enough to meet basic expenses (18 percent).
- 66% say the bills were from a one time or short term medical expense. 33% say that the bills built up over time such as treatment for a chronic illness.
In a related survey the Keiser Family Foundation found that “more than four in ten uninsured don’t know basic health insurance terms. Fewer understand complex coverage concepts.” Some of their findings:
- 41% answered correctly when asked if they received care at an in-network hospital it doesn’t mean that all the doctors who provide care for you are in-network.
- 51 percent correctly calculated how much they would have to pay for a 4-day hospital stay with a $1000 deductible and $250-per-day copay.
- 16 percent correctly calculated how much they would have to pay for an out-of-network lab test with a total bill of $100 when the insurer pays 60% of allowed charges; and the allowed charge is $20.
The ten question quiz they used for the survey can be taken here: http://kff.org/quiz/health-insurance-quiz/
They did a short video on the subject to help people understand:
As they describe in the video even with health insurance the costs for health care can end up costing a person a lot of money depending on the situation.