Medical Debt Concerns Fell for ‘Near-Poor’ Families, Report Finds
The percentage of "near-poor" families who experienced difficulty paying their medical bills declined significantly during the first six months of subsidized health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a CDC report released this month, Modern Healthcare reports (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 2/26).
The report is based on the National Health Interview Survey of 371,482 individuals (Cohen, CDC report, February 2015). It defined near poor as families with annual incomes between 100% and 200% of federal poverty level.
Specifically, 28% of U.S. residents under age 65 in near-poor families reported having difficulty paying medical bills in the first six months of 2014, compared with 32.9% in all of 2013.
Smaller declines were seen in families with incomes below 100% of the poverty level, as well as families with incomes above 200% of the poverty level, according to Modern Healthcare.
Overall, the report found that the percentage of all families facing difficulty paying medical bills declined from 19.4% in 2013 to 17.8% once the subsidized coverage became available.
The report also found that between 2013 and the first six months of 2014, the rate of all families facing difficulty paying medical bills dropped from:
- 33.2% to 31.2% among the uninsured;
- 24.8% to 24.2% among those with public insurance; and
- 13.7% to 12.4% among those with private insurance.
The percentage of all families facing difficulty paying medical bills declined for all races, according to the report. Specifically, from 2013 through the first six months of 2014, the rate dropped from:
- 26% to 23.8% among blacks;
- 22.6% to 20.5% among Hispanics;
- 17.8% to 16.3% among whites; and
- 8.8% to 8% among Asians (Modern Healthcare, 2/26).