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Tens of Millions of Americans Severely Impacted by Health Care Bills

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According to a very recent survey, tens of millions of Americans – including both the uninsured and those with insurance – face severe financial hardship each year due to medical bills. This survey, conducted by the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, was summarized in an eye-opening article we found on the blog of the Wall Street Journal.

Click here to read this just-published article, written by Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman.

Altman points out that in recent years most of the attention in the arena of health care has centered on the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), with its focus on providing coverage for the uninsured. Yet millions of Americans, including those already insured, are finding that the cost of uncovered medical care is severely affecting their ability to meet other financial obligations. About one third said they were having trouble paying for basics such as housing, food or heat because of medical bills.

As one would predict, the largest share of Americans reporting serious problems with health care costs – just over half of those surveyed – were those without insurance. But about one-quarter of those who have coverage that comes with high deductibles say costs are creating severe difficulty. Even among those with household incomes between $50,000 and $99,000, the figure is the same: about one-quarter report that uncovered health care expenses have caused serious financial issues.

The biggest culprit, in two-thirds of cases, is the one-time or short-term medical crisis, where costs typically include unplanned hospital stays and emergency room visits. Another source of the financial strain is cost incurred when a policy-holder uses doctors or hospitals that are out of the insured’s network, with many respondents reporting they did not know they were in an out-of-network facility when they received care.

How big is the financial burden? Just over forty percent of respondents reported they had incurred uncovered medical bills over $2,500; one respondent in eight had incurred $10,000 or more in uncovered costs.

The bottom line, says Altman, is that the issue is not going away. He writes, “Adequacy of health insurance will become more pressing with so many Americans experiencing problems paying medical bills each year and as deductibles and other forms of cost sharing continue to increase.” The push toward higher deductible plans with more out of pocket costs will exacerbate the problem many Americans face.

For our clients, protecting assets and avoiding becoming a burden to your loved ones are central to a good retirement plan. But how can you do that as you age? Let us show you how. We have helped many hundreds of people achieve the peace of mind that comes from a sound retirement plan, and we would love to do the same for you. As a solid next step, why not join us at an upcoming LifePlanning Seminar? These information-packed gatherings are free, and we conduct them throughout the Puget Sound area.

Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab, find the seminar of your choice, then bring your questions. We’ll give you excellent tools to get you started on the road to a plan that takes all the major issues of retirement into account. Then if you wish we will gladly meet with you personally to help you bring your plan t0 completion. We hope to see you soon!

(Originally reported at and the website of the Kaiser Family Foundation)

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