35% of patients report deferring care over existing medical debt

Thirty-five percent of patients with outstanding medical bills reported deferring care in the last year over the unpaid debt, according to a consumer survey conducted by TransUnion Healthcare.

"It's scary and sad to know people are forgoing their physical and mental health for fear that they'll ruin their financial health with medical treatment," said Jonathan Wiik, principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion Healthcare. 

In a separate analysis, TransUnion Healthcare found that the number of financial assistance transactions it processed between September 2020 and September 2021 increased 55 percent. 

The data indicates that hospitals are working proactively with patients to understand their financial needs, according to TransUnion.

Mr. Wiik said the number of transactions involving a form of financial assistance was likely exacerbated by financial pressures from the pandemic, but billing practices at hospitals also were a factor.

The data used in the analysis of financial assistance claims comes from millions of financial assistance transactions from more than 1,000 hospitals and physician practices. The consumer survey was conducted by TransUnion and asked patients about their healthcare billing experiences. 

Read the full news release here

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