Poll Reveals 40% Of Americans Have Healthcare Debt Piling Up

In the United States, healthcare coverage is a mixed system, combining government Medicare and Medicaid that is publicly financed through taxes and private health insurance plans that you may receive from a full-time position, explains the Professional Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR). This is a different system from much of the Western world which provides some form of universal health coverage where a country's citizens receive health services without incurring harsh financial costs, according to the World Health Organization.

It's currently estimated that 50% of United States citizens receive health insurance from a full-time employer, 6% receive insurance from the marketplace, 20% use Medicaid, 14% use Medicare, and 1% of citizens use other types of public insurance like military health insurance. This still leaves almost 10% of Americans without any form of healthcare coverage, notes ISPOR. Even for people who do have health insurance, a recent poll suggests that healthcare debt is worse than anyone thought.

100 million Americans have some amount of healthcare debt

A recent investigation by Kaiser Health News has revealed that 100 million Americans, or 41% of adults, have some form of health care debt. The KFF Health Care Debt Survey interviewed hundreds of doctors, patients, and researchers, and analyzed multiple reports from credit card companies and the billing departments from hospitals.

The research showed that around one in four adults with health care debt owes more than $5,000, while one in five adults with debt owes so much that they don't believe they will ever be able to pay it off. To try to lower their debt, the poll showed that 63% of those with health care debt cut back spending on food, clothes, and other necessities, 48% spent most or all of their savings, while 17% declared bankruptcy or lost their home due to being unable to pay back their debt (via Kaiser Health News).

It's possible that debt may even prevent patients from receiving further access to healthcare. The research revealed that one in seven people with health care debt reported being denied medical care due to unpaid bills, while around two-thirds of people with debt have delayed necessary care due to cost.