Report: Americans Making Financial and Lifestyle Sacrifices to Pay for Health Care

1 in 5 Americans with health insurance have problems paying medical bills


One in five Americans with health insurance is having problems paying medical bills and many are making financial and lifestyle sacrifices to foot the cost, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

More than one in three Americans, or 35 percent, said they were unable to pay for basic necessities such as food, heat, and housing because of medical bill problems.

"People with insurance who face problem medical bills also report a wide range of consequences and sacrifices during the past year as a result," the report states.

Sixty-three percent said they had to use up most or all of their savings and 42 percent took on additional work and worked longer hours. Seventy-seven percent said they planned to delay an action or purchasing major household items and 75 percent said they would spend less on food, clothing, and basic household items. Another 38 percent said they would pay the health care costs by increasing their credit card debt and 37 percent said they would resort to borrowing money from family and friends.

The report did not find that the insured had significantly fewer problems than the uninsured in paying their medical bills. Forty-four percent of the insured said they had problems with medical bills and 45 percent of the uninsured said the same.

"While insurance can protect people from problem medical bills, the survey suggests that those with employer coverage or other insurance suffer similar consequences as the uninsured once such problems occur," the report states.

Many who were insured reported skipping or putting off health care in the past year. Sixty-two percent said they postponed dental care, 43 percent said they skipped doctor-recommended tests and treatments, and 41 percent went without filling a prescription.

Thirty-one percent of those having problems paying their medical bills said the total reached at least $5,000 and 13 percent of those said their total reached $10,000.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Ali Meyer

Ali Meyer   Email Ali | Full Bio | RSS
Ali Meyer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon covering economic issues that expose government waste, fraud, and abuse. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was a multimedia reporter with where her work appeared on outlets such as Drudge Report and Fox News. She also interned with the Heritage Foundation and Pacific Research Institute. Her Twitter handle is @DJAliMeyer, and her email address is

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