We all know that US healthcare billing and medical bills in America are out of control. In fact, we spend over $10,000 per person for healthcare each year in the US.
However – the current state of affairs creates a toxic and never-ending healthcare billing cycle that has an enormous effect on a shocking number of Americans.
Below are 7 facts that illustrate just how much of a problem this healthcare billing cycle is.
Fact #1: 45% of Americans Adults are Still uninsured or underinsured.
From the Commonwealth Fund, 30 million adults in America still don’t have health insurance and 44% are underinsured (Underinsured adults are those that despite having health insurance still have high out of pocket healthcare costs relative to their income).
The ACA helped to significantly decreased the number of uninsured American adults but actually increased the number of underinsured (many uninsured received health insurance but are still underinsured).
Medical billing problems from high deductibles and co-insurance to the rise of ‘fake health insurance’ are driving this incredibly high number of underinsured.
Fact #2: Hospitals charge consumers over 4x their costs
And over 3.5x what insurance companies pay. We talk about this healthcare billing topic a lot in our Guide to Lowering Your Medical Bills, but it bears repeating. That’s like charging $70k for a brand new Honda Civic!
Even worse, some hospitals charge consumers 10-20x their costs (we see these hospitals all the time).
So, far too many people don’t have adequate insurance coverage (healthcare billing fact #1) and are getting overcharged by hospitals.
Fact #3: Roughly 1 in 4 Americans have problems with medical bills or debt.
According to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund, over 79 Million Americans have problems with outrageous medical bills or debt. That’s 1 in every 4 people in the country, which is absolutely staggering.
So far, our healthcare billing points include: too many people don’t have insurance, hospitals massively overcharge, and then Americans are saddled with enormous debt issues.
By the way, if you’re one of those people (and you’re not alone) – find out more about how to get help with medical bills and 7 Steps to Take if Your Medical Bill Goes to Collections.
Fact #4: Hospitals collect less than 1 cent on the dollar on patient bills of over $10,000
Things aren’t any better on the hospital end of healthcare billing either. A recent study found that when a hospital bills a patient $10,000 or more, on average they’ll collect less than $100.
So a staggering number of Americans have problems with medical debt, but hospitals aren’t collecting. This leads to our next healthcare billing fact…
Fact #5: 43 Million Americans have overdue medical bills on their credit report
What happens when a hospital doesn’t collect on a medical bill? It gets sent to collections and gets put on your credit report – as many as 43 million Americans have had this happen to them.
If this is happening to you – check out our blog post on how medical bills affect your credit score to get an understanding of what your risks are.
Fact #6: Over 18 Million American Adults struggle to pay for basic necessities due to their medical bills
It’s not that Americans don’t want to pay their high medical bills and have their credit destroyed, it’s often that they’re trying and can’t.
An in-depth survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that over 18 Million Americans struggle to pay for basic necessities, such as heat, rent, and food, due to the high cost of their medical bills.
This medical billing problem bears focusing on. That’s 18 million people in America who wear winter coats and hats in their house instead of paying for heat, skip eating, or risk getting evicted just to try to pay their medical bills.
Fact #7: 40% of Americans Skipped Treatment Because of Healthcare Costs
Finally – if skipping paying for food, housing, or rent isn’t enough, patients will skip needed medical treatments because they can’t afford to pay.
A survey conducted by the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute shows that 40% of Americans have skipped treatment because of healthcare costs
To summarize the toxic cycle of healthcare billing in the US – uninsured and underinsured Americans get massively overcharged for their healthcare. Hospitals don’t collect and send patients to collections ruining their credit. In an attempt to fix the situation, patients will skip paying for rent, food, and heat, and then eventually skip needed medical treatment due to the cost – causing even more problems.
Nobody wins in this situation. Hospitals write off millions of dollars in uncompensated care and patients have their credit destroyed, struggle to make ends meet, and end up skipping needed healthcare treatment (which often leads to other complications and even higher healthcare costs).
In fact, the issue of financial distress because of toxic healthcare billing is becoming so prevalent and common that the medical community has a name for it – Financial Toxicity – and is starting to recognize just how much of a problem this is.
At Resolve we’re looking to fix this toxic healthcare billing cycle. We’ve started on the patient side – helping those with exorbitant medical bills find relief by ensuring proper insurance coverage, identifying and correcting errors, and negotiating medical bill pricing directly with hospitals. If you have a medical bill you’d like advice on, schedule a free consultation with one of our advocates.
Braden founded Resolve after experiencing first hand how unfair the system is for patients. Prior to Resolve, he built and ran Operations for a renewable energy company and then built and ran Product, Growth, and Operations for a VC-funded edtech company. He received his MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and BA in Philosophy from the College of William and Mary. When not trying to lower healthcare costs he can be found outdoors mountain biking, skiing, or hiking with his dog.