Insurance Does Not Bar Against Medical Debts
Health insurance premiums, deductibles and copayments, as well as confusion about policies and billing practices, have led to an increased number of individuals who have coverage but incur medical debt, according to a study released on Thursday by the Access Project, USA Today reports. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Missouri Foundation for Health sponsored the research.
For the study, researchers examined the experiences of 45 individuals with health insurance who had incurred medical debt. About two-thirds of participants attributed their medical debt in part to health insurance premiums, deductibles and copays, the study found.
The study also found that about one-third of participants attributed their medical debt in part to a lack of coverage for certain health care services, such as prescription drugs, dental care or medical equipment. Some participants attributed their medical debt to annual or lifetime benefit caps; additional charges for out-of-network care; and complex hospital and health insurer billing practices, according to the study.
Carol Pryor, senior policy analyst for the Access Project, said, "Shifting more costs onto patients has significant health access and financial consequences."
However, Mohit Ghose, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, said that the study improperly attributes increased health care costs to health insurers. He said, "For too long, people have found it convenient to put any and all problems with the health sector at the doorstep of health insurance plans" (Appleby, USA Today, 3/22).