The Daily Scoop: 1 in 5 US families struggle to pay medical bills; half say can’t pay a cent

ATLANTA — A survey shows 1 in 5 Americans say their families are having trouble paying their medical bills. Worse, half of those who are struggling say they are unable to pay a single dime toward those debts.

The survey of 52,000 people was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from January through June of last year. It’s the first time the government agency has looked at the issue in such a comprehensive way.

Peter Cunningham, who studies the issue for an independent health policy research group, says it may be the largest such study ever done on the matter.

Lower-income people struggled the most. They were three times more likely to have difficulty paying their medical bills over the past year.

The statistic of 1 in 5 who struggle with medical bills was reported by Cunningham and his colleagues in a smaller study in 2007 at the start of the recession. That figure remained the same in their 2010 survey, and that’s surprising since the ranks of the unemployed and uninsured grew by millions. However, he and other experts believe there’s something else at play here: Many Americans are likely just cutting back on doctor visits, prescription purchases and other health care spending.
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2 Comments to “The Daily Scoop: 1 in 5 US families struggle to pay medical bills; half say can’t pay a cent”

  1. This is what happens when government steps in and starts paying for things like health care, infusing billions and billions of fiat currency dollars into the demand side of the equation for medical services and pharmaceuticals. The prices go up –of course. No matter what they charge. But then if Medicare says we’ll only pay this much for this treatment, then doctors quit accepting Medicare patients. That’s what they’re doing by the thousands.

    Ron Paul is old enough to report that when he worked at a Catholic hospital after graduating Med school, and before there was any Medicaid or Medicare, that hospital NEVER turned away even ONE person for lack of money. In his own practice he told his partner they would ACCEPT ALL Medicare and Medicaid patients and treat them FOR FREE. And they did a very prosperous practice.

    The same thing has happened in education. Tuition is now sky-high because government pays so much for it, more dollars chasing after education, so the dollar is worth less for that, so of course few people can pay and so therefore the government has to pay now. A spiral that will end in the dollar crash.s

    • Great … That’s one hospital and one doctor. So you had elderly patients without health insurance coming into the hospital after so ill they had not other choice. Nice. Prior to Medicare 50% of seniors had no health insurance and 30% lived in poverty. Now everyone over 65 has access to some form of health care and 14% in poverty – all the hallmarks of a failed government program.

      How do you figure the government pays so much for tuition? Most of the form of aid for higher ed is in the form of loans. Loans that cannot be dispensed with in bankruptcy.

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