7 things to know about medical debt & uncompensated care

Here are seven key notes on medical debt.

1. About 20 percent of working-age Americans with health insurance report difficulty paying their medical bills in the past year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times survey.

2. More than half of unisured people — 53 percent — report having difficulty paying their medical bills.

3. Thirty-one percent of insured Americans took money out of retirement, college or other long-term savings accounts to pay medical bills in the past year; 17 percent of uninsured reported the same. An additional 17 percent of insured and 11 percent of uninsured patients took out another type of loan.

4. About 26 percent of the insured patients with medical bill problems report unexpected claims denials and 32 percent received care from out-of-network providers that insurance companies wouldn’t cover. Most — 69 percent — of the out-of-network charges were a surprise as patients weren’t aware their provider wasn’t in their plan’s network.

5. Uncompensated care at community hospitals reached $42.8 billion in 2014, around 5.3 percent of total expenses, according to the AHA. This was down from 2013 when uncompensated care reached $46.4 billion and was 5.9 percent of total expenses.

6. Total accounts receivable for the uninsured population increased 13 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to a Crowe Horwath report. The total A/R from uninsured self-pay patients decreased 22 percent over the same time period, due partially to high-financial risk patients joining Medicaid in expansion states.

7. Around 84 percent of hospitals hadn’t created specific high deductible health plan codes in their patient accounting systems.

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