High bills are leading Americans to delay medical care

Photo of author

Nearly one-quarter of respondents in Gallup’s poll said they didn’t notice a “serious” condition in the past year. When Margaret Bell, 71, discovered her cancer had returned four years ago, she hesitated to resume her chemotherapy because she couldn’t afford it, and the high prices made it even more difficult . She regularly skipped appointments near her home in Lancaster, SC.

“It’s affecting patients’ access to care,” said Dr. Kashyap B. Bell, Ms. Bell’s oncologist. Patel said. As chief executive of Carolina Blood & Cancer Care Associates in Rock Hill, SC, she recently founded No One Left Alone, a nonprofit group to help cancer patients like Ms. Bell and connect them with local charities. Did. The organization is bearing the cost of her treatment, and Dr. Patel has assured her that his office will raise funds for her visits.

On a limited budget, “it’s been very difficult for me,” Ms. Bell said. High grocery bills can put a strain on her family for dinner, and she is faced with deciding which of her medical needs is most urgent. He has postponed getting a pacemaker.

A new federal report suggests that fewer Americans’ health bills are being sent to collections, but medical debt still accounts for more than half of all types of collection debt, more than unpaid credit card or cellphone bills. It remains a serious issue: According to another recent poll, nearly a fifth of Californians said they had at least $5,000 in medical debt. Slightly more than half of those asked said they had given up some type of care in the past year, half of whom reported that their condition had worsened.

“It’s about the trade-offs that people have to think about, which are really tough,” said Dr. Jai Bhatt, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a research unit of the consulting firm. He also sees patients at Family Christian Health Center outside of Chicago. In a Deloitte survey last year, 28 percent of respondents said they were less able to provide care than in the previous year.

He said some of the clinic’s patients are losing their jobs and insurance. “We’ve seen it before, and now we’re going to see it in greater numbers,” Dr. Bhatt said.

In Hammond, Ind., Tamika Smith and her husband, Stevenson Lloyd, are facing tight finances and are trying to save where they can. She is disabled and is covered through Medicare, the federal insurance program, while her husband, who works in an auto parts factory, has private insurance through his employer.

Leave a Comment