U.S. Medical Bills Pricey, Even With Private Insurance

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U.S. Medical Bills Pricey, Even With Private Insurance
U.S. Medical Bills Pricey, Even With Private Insurance

THURSDAY, Nov. 13, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Many Americans may believe that private insurance can keep major medical bills at bay. But a new survey finds that one-fifth of people with private plans still spend at least 5 percent of their income on out-of-pocket health care costs.

The findings, from the research group The Commonwealth Fund, found that 21 percent of adults with health coverage spent 5 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs -- not including premiums -- over the past year, and 13 percent spent 10 percent or more. The problem was most common among low-income adults, with 41 percent of those who made less than $11,490 a year spending 5 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs, and 31 percent spending 10 percent or more.

Many low- and moderate-income adults with high out-of-pocket costs skipped needed care or medications, the survey found. Among those with yearly incomes of less than $22,980, 46 percent skipped needed care at least once due to their health plan's copayments or coinsurance, 28 percent did not fill a prescription, 28 percent skipped a medical test or follow-up treatment, 30 percent did not see a doctor when they had a health problem, and 24 percent did not see a specialist when their doctor recommended seeing one. Among people with private insurance who spent at least 5 percent of their income on out-of-pocket health costs, 40 percent said they skipped needed care at least once due to their plan deductibles, 29 percent skipped a medical test or follow-up treatment, 27 percent did not see a doctor for a health problem, 23 percent skipped a preventive care test, and 22 percent did not see a specialist despite their doctor's advice to do so.

Overall, 13 percent of adults with private health insurance have plans that include a deductible equal to 5 percent or more of their income. Forty-three percent of adults said their deductibles are somewhat, very difficult, or impossible to afford.

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