Personal Finance

Americans cite high costs as barrier to getting health care

If you were hit with a sudden medical bill, what could you afford? For many Americans, $249 is the limit.

Doctor writing on paper and typing on a calculator.

More Americans are having a hard time affording medical bills, according to data released by AccessOne last week.

The survey found 43% of respondents said a medical bill of $249 is the most they could afford with confidence.    

It's leading many to skip the doctor's office altogether. The survey found that 80% of respondents say availability of affordable, long-term payment plans would make a difference in whether they decide to seek care.

"As you've thought about health care in the past, it's sort of counter-recessionary or recession resistant," said Mark Spinner, CEO of AccessOne.

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He said trends shifted during the pandemic and with inflation. AccessOne added that high inflation is impacting Americans’ ability to pay medical bills.

As a result, they're skipping prescriptions, delaying care and prioritizing groceries and other expenses over their health.

"I think the concern is just long-term public health, the long-term effects of not doing the things that you should do from a preventative care perspective, from a medication adherence perspective,” said Spinner.

He says most health care systems offer some form of payment assistance.

"People need to step forward and self-advocate in these conversations and get to the business office staff, get to someone at the health system if you need to go to inpatient care and have a direct conversation with them about your benefits, what kind of liability may get generated and what the health system offers in terms of payment assistance,” he said.