Tough Trade-offs: Medical Bills, Family Finances and Access to Care
Publication Date: June 2004
Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change
Series: Issue Brief No. 85
About 20 million American families—representing 43 million people—reported problems paying medical bills in 2003, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). While uninsured families are more likely to have medical bill problems, two-thirds of families with problems paying medical bills have health insurance coverage. Of all families with medical bill problems, almost two-thirds reported difficulty paying for other basic necessities—rent, mortgage payments, transportation or food—as a result of medical debt. People in families with medical bill problems also reported much greater trouble getting care because of cost concerns—one in three did not get a prescription drug, one in four delayed care and one in eight went without needed care.