CDC: Many Residents Had Trouble Paying Medical Bills in 2012
Many U.S. families say their medical bills are a source of financial burden, according to a report released Tuesday by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, Modern Healthcare reports (Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare, 1/28).
For the report, researchers analyzed data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (Kaplan, "Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 1/28).
Nearly 27% of all respondents reported in 2012 that they faced difficulty paying their bills in the previous 12 months, and one in 10 said they could not pay them at all (Modern Healthcare, 1/28).
In addition, the report found that:
- 21.4% of respondents said they were trying to pay off their medical bills over an extended timeframe;
- 8.9% said they still were facing difficulty paying their medical bills at the time of the survey; and
- 7.6% said that they had faced difficulty paying off medical bills within the previous 12 months.
The report also found that families with lower incomes faced greater difficulty paying off their medical bills. Twenty-six percent of families with incomes below 139% of the federal poverty level faced that problem, compared with only 6.4% of families with incomes of at least 400% of the FPL.
In addition, the report found that families with children faced a greater burden paying off their medical bills. Specifically, it showed that 12.1% of families with at least one child at the time of the survey faced a medical bill payment that they could not make. In addition, nearly 30% of families with at least one child said they were in the process of paying off a bill over an extended amount of time.
By comparison, only 7.1% of single adults living alone at the time of the survey said they had a current medical bill that they could not pay, while 14.7% said they were in the process of paying off a bill over an extended timeframe.
The burden of paying medical bills also varied based on the health insurance status of family members. For example:
- 46% of adults in families with insured and uninsured members said they had experienced a financial burden associated with paying medical bills;
- 39.7% of adults in completely uninsured families reported similar difficulties; and
- 21% of adults in completely insured families reported similar difficulties ("Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 1/28).