Number of families struggling to pay medical bills drops

February 3, 2017

medical bills health care costsAfter a year filled with stories about high health care costs and rising prescription drug prices, a new report shows fewer Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills.

The number of people whose families have trouble paying medical bills dropped 22 percent in the last five years, according to the report released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Research suggests the trend is due to an improving economy and an increase in the number of previously uninsured people getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

A consumer and health policy advocate told NPR the main factor behind whether people can pay their medical bills is whether they have insurance.

“The effect on families is profound,” said¬†Lynn Quincy,¬†director of the Healthcare Value Hub at the Consumers Union.

The report also found that the number of people younger than 65 who were in families having problems paying medical bills dropped from 56.5 million in 2011 to 43.8 million in the first six months of 2016.

The percentage of children younger than 17 in families struggling to pay medical bills also dropped from 23 percent to 17.6 in the same timeframe. Until 2016, children in that age group were more likely than adults to be in families having problems paying medical expenses.

Voices for Affordable Health offers resources that can help consumers secure high-quality affordable care at https://voicesforaffordablehealth.com/resources/.