CDC Data Indicates Fewer People Having Problems Paying Medical Bills

While one-in-seven individuals were still having problems paying their medical bills at the end of 2018, that represents a 28% drop from the number who were having problems in 2011, according to data released this week by the Centers for Disease Control.

Taking data from the 2018 National Health Interview Survey, the report revealed that 14.2% of respondents were having problems paying medical bills in 2018, down from 19.7% in 2011. In the interest of full disclosure, most of that decrease happened between 2011 and 2015, but the rate has continued to fall, albeit less rapidly, since then.

Females were slightly more likely than males to have problems paying their medical bills.

The researchers focused on the numbers themselves and did not ask why people were experiencing problems paying their bills. The report also does not specifically define what it means when they asked whether the respondents had problems paying their bills. Participants were asked: “In the past 12 months, did you or anyone in the family have problems paying or were unable to pay any medical bills? Include bills for doctors, dentists, hospitals, therapists, medication, equipment, nursing home, or home care.” The data was extracted from the answer to that question.

The report breaks out responses by age, ethnicity, and the type of insurance maintained by the participant, if he or she had any insurance at all.

The results of the report are somewhat surprising, especially because of the growing number of reports indicating that more people are having problems paying their healthcare bills. That the percentage of people who say their family has had problems paying medical bills has consistently declined during the past decade runs counter to much of what has been published regarding the state of healthcare debt.

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