Medical Debt in the U.S.

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:

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.




3 thoughts on “Medical Debt in the U.S.

Add yours

  1. Thanks for this important public service. I am helping my son with some costs beneath his high deductible for a minor surgery. Absent this he would be overwhelmed as many are. I know an attorney whose clientele is mostly GOP voters who did not sign up for ACA and now are in a deep hole after medical costs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At least it wasn’t a major surgery. I had a family member who ended up in the ER; got sticker shock not only from the number of items billed for, but for the cost of one self administered drug charge. The nurse handed them a pill in a cup. It wasn’t covered under insurance because it was self administered. Had they just injected the drug into them it would have been covered. Go figure.

      I recently read that due to the Cadillac Tax rate of 40% businesses are needing to look for ways to shrink and/or shift costs. Among the most obvious choices are to not offer Cadillac plans, and increase the cost sharing of employees including increase the deductibles.


Thoughts? Share below :-)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: