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Why American Health Care Costs Are So High

Anyone who pays for health care in the U.S. should watch this excellent explanation of the complicated, nuanced reasons health care costs are so high here. It’s making the rounds on my Facebook feed from people all across the political spectrum.

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Bartering Talents to Pay Health Care Costs

How cool is this? “…[A] pilot program at… Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., allows artists and performers — many of whom lack health insurance — to volunteer their time at the facility in exchange for health care.”

This excerpt is from Medical News Today. To learn more, see the Kaiser Network Daily Reports summary and NYC Artists Trade Talents for Health Care.

 

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Addressing Health Care Costs

The final articles in USA Today’s health care cost series ran today. They include:

To see all the articles from this series, visit The Healthcare Crunch: How Americans Pay Medical Bills.

The Kaiser Foundation’s daily report tipped me off to the USA Today series. Kasier’s summaries of the articles are available at:

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USA Today Series on Health Care Costs

USA Today began a three-part series today on US health care costs. Even the Insured can Buckle Under Health Care Costs, the first article in the series, details the findings of a survey conducted by the newspaper, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health.

“Medical costs are a growing burden for middle-income families with children, as well as for the working class, people with chronic illnesses, the disabled and the uninsured. Many who cannot pay skimp on health care, go without prescription drugs or simply ignore their bills, the survey showed. . . .

“Overall, the hardest hit by medical costs are the uninsured.

“Next are adults under age 65 with insurance who have household incomes of less than $75,000, an analysis of the survey data found. Those in that vast swath of Middle America were far more likely than those richer or older to report not having enough money to pay for medical costs in the past year (33%), to have paid $1,000 or more in out-of-pocket costs for care (31%) or to have skipped medical treatment or a prescription because of the cost (34%).

“Wealthier households and those who report few health problems — two groups that represent nearly half of Americans — had little or no difficulty with medical costs.”

Other findings include:

  • 62% percent of those struggling to pay medical bills have health insurance
  • 28% of adults were unable to pay for some form of medical care in the past year
  • More than one in five Americans currently have an overdue medical bill
  • Nearly two out of 10 say health care costs are their biggest monthly expense after rent or mortgage payments
  • Almost three out of 10 estimate they paid $1,000 or more out-of-pocket for health care in the past year on top of premiums

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Medical Debt

More than two in five adults in the US have medical debt or trouble paying their medical bills, according to a study released yesterday by the Commonwealth Fund. According to study authors:

  • Adults younger than 65 have considerably higher rates of medical debt and bill problems than those older than 65
  • Adults younger than 65 who are uninsured have the highest debt levels, but even adults with continuous insurance have trouble paying bills
  • About two-thirds of people with medical debt or difficulty paying bills went without necessary care because of the expense

A 12-page topic brief is available on the Commonwealth Fund’s website. The Kaiser Family Foundation summarizes the report in its daily health policy report.