Financial and Health Burdens of Chronic Conditions Grow

Publication Date: April 2009

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Author(s): Center for Studying Health System Change; Genna.R. Cohen; Ha.T. Tu

Research Area: Health

Type: Report


Almost 72 million working-age Americans—18-64 years old—live with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or depression. In 2007, almost three in 10, or more than 20 million people with chronic conditions, lived in families with problems paying medical bills—a significant increase from 21 percent in 2003, according to a new national study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

While problems paying medical bills are especially acute and still rising for uninsured people with chronic conditions (62%), medical-bill problems also are significant and growing among people with private insurance and higher incomes. For the more than 20 million chronically ill adults with medical bill problems in 2007, one in four went without needed medical care, half put off care and more than half went without a prescription medication because of cost concerns.