Optum: More than a third of chronically ill patients struggle with bills

Thirty-five percent of chronically ill Americans had a hard time paying their bills in the past year, according to recent research conducted by Optum Bank, a part of UnitedHealth Group.

For its research, Optum Bank conducted interviews with patients and caregivers dealing with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson's and HIV/AIDS. Optum Bank, which administers health accounts and offers electronic payment and processing services for medical care, wanted to better understand the connection between health and finances.

One research participant who is a caregiver told Optum Bank: "Managing insurance claims [for my loved one] feels like a part-time job. I'm a very busy person, so I have to look at insurance claims at midnight after completing my other responsibilities."

"Today, patients say their finances have been impacted by their condition, but to varying degrees," Optum Bank added. "Some are succeeding financially while others are in extremely precarious financial situations and struggle to afford basic needs. Most patients feel guilty about the financial toll their condition has on their family and caregivers."

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