Half of Americans have had trouble paying for health care, have worried about how they would afford care for a serious illness, or have delayed care because of cost, according to new research by the American Cancer Society.
The financial toxicity of serious illnesses that are expensive to treat, such as cancer, is well documented. But the financial, emotional, and physical toll of medical expenses goes far beyond critical illness, to about 137 million Americans, as out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, according to the study, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Using data from the 2015-17 National Health Interview Survey, researchers analyzed three ways health-care costs strain patients:
Researchers found that about 56 percent of adults reported some form of medical financial hardship, with adults under age 64 experiencing the greatest difficulty.
One study found that the prevalence and amount of medical debt peaked at age 27.
It doesn’t take much for people to feel pinched by medical costs, especially as patients pay a greater share of insurance and care costs on their own.
The study’s authors concluded that the health-care industry must find ways to control patients’ exposure to costs by giving them access to quality and cost-effective options.