137 million Americans faced medical financial hardship, study reveals

Over 100 million Americans face financial hardship related to medical expenses, particularly the uninsured and adults under age 65, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The study — conducted as part of the American Cancer Society's intramural research program — examined data from the 2015–2017 CDC National Health Interview Survey to assess the prevalence of medical financial hardship in the U.S.

Researchers said they found that about 137.1 million adults reported medical financial hardship in the last year. Financial hardship could be medical debt, psychological distress from healthcare costs and/or coping behaviors to deal with those costs, such as forgoing medical care.

Adults ages 18 to 64 were more likely to report medical financial hardship compared to adults ages 65 and older. Adults in both age groups with less education and more health conditions were also more likely to report financial hardship, according to the study.

"Medical financial hardship is common in the USA, especially in adults aged 18–64 years and those without health insurance coverage," the researchers concluded. "With trends towards higher patient cost-sharing and increasing healthcare costs, risks of hardship may increase in the future."

 

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