Thirty-two percent of patients said high out-of-pocket healthcare costs dissuaded them from healthcare access.
Fifty-six percent of adult patients are worried their out-of-pocket healthcare costs could lead their household into bankruptcy, according to new data from HealthCareInsider.com in partnership with YouGov.
Twenty-eight percent said they currently carry medical debt, the survey of about 1,500 adult patients revealed, while 32 percent said they only had $500 or less in their savings accounts to cover a medical bill.
These findings come as patient financial responsibility continues to grow in the United States. The rise of high-deductible health plans and other market trends have shifted considerable cost burden onto patients, and many of them are struggling to keep up.
Want to publish your own articles on DistilINFO Publications?
Send us an email, we will get in touch with you.
According to the survey, this is leading to patient access to care problems. Out-of-pocket healthcare costs being too high came in as the leading factor dissuading patients from accessing care, with 32 percent of respondents reporting such.
Far fewer patients identified lack of clinic or hospital access, dislike of visiting the doctor, or lack of belief in healthcare as reasons not to access treatment, the survey showed.
These trends come as fewer and fewer patients have the cash on hand to cover a high medical bill. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they have the savings to cover a costly medical bill should an emergency arise. One-fifth said they have no savings whatsoever to cover a costly medical bill, while 29 and 32 percent had up to $3,000 and $500 to spend on a medical bill, respectively.
These unattainable healthcare costs are putting many patients into medical debt. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they carry some amount of medical debt, with about 65 percent of those respondents saying their medical debt is over $1,000.
Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they have received a surprise medical bill—a bill a patient did not expect or did not expect to be so high—which may have contributed to the medical debt.
Notably, health payer coverage, or lack thereof, plays a big role in these trends. Thirteen percent of respondents said they could not access healthcare because they did not have health insurance coverage. Of those respondents, 53 percent said they could not afford health insurance coverage.
Although insurance coverage costs can often be prohibitive (39 percent insurance as their highest healthcare expense), the survey responses also indicated that low health literacy is getting in the way of patients purchasing an affordable plan. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they were not aware that one could receive a tax subsidy as a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if they did not qualify for Medicare.
An additional 32 percent believed that statement—which is indeed true—could be true, while 16 percent believed it to be false.
Other reasons for lack of health insurance coverage included losing employer-sponsored coverage or being self-employed (13 percent), believing they do not need insurance (12 percent), or their employer does not offer healthcare benefits (8 percent).
The question of healthcare affordability and out-of-pocket patient costs has become an important one in a time where everyone needs access to healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a keen sense of urgency, with many patients acknowledging they need to be able to access healthcare at least when they are feeling coronavirus symptoms, not to mention as a means to monitor wellness.
But as this survey, and others like it, noted, healthcare costs are still insurmountable for many patients. Patients know they need to access healthcare, but they cannot always afford to do so.
According to TransUnion Healthcare’s second annual patient survey, this has led to a surge in healthcare consumerism. As patients work to access healthcare and manage sometimes astronomical costs, they are turning to price transparency and comparison shopping tools to ensure a best buy.
Eighty percent of patients said they look up the cost of their healthcare before accessing it. This trend is especially true for younger patients and patients who do not have health insurance coverage.
Of course, healthcare costs are not the only factor at play here, the report authors suggested. In addition to hefty medical bills, patients are navigating an economy crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures.
Patients who have lost their jobs—and employer-sponsored coverage—and seen their bank accounts shrink are working to determine who they can access medical care they may need during a pandemic while curbing further financial challenges.
Healthcare organizations may consider these trends in their patient collections efforts, most experts agree. Providing price transparency is one step to help enable this trend toward healthcare consumerism.
Source: Patient Engagementhit