Most Consumers Don’t Understand Their Medical Bills: TransUnion

Barely half of the participants in a survey conducted by TransUnion Healthcare said they fully understood their financial responsibility for a recent medical bill, and that figure was significantly lower for younger generations.

Only 37% of members of Generation Z (born after 1995) said they fully understood their medical bill, compared with 47% of Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994), 55% of Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1979), and 64% of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964).

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on individuals across the country, with millions losing their jobs temporarily or permanently, causing many of those people to lose their health insurance. Twenty-two percent of respondents said their health insurance has been impacted because of COVID-19, and 49% said the state of the economy has had an impact on how they seek medical care.

“Our survey found, due to the pandemic, larger percentages of younger generations deferred non-essential care and had their insurance coverage impacted,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion Healthcare, in a statement. “At the same time, the industry has reported only modest shifts in payer mix despite the economic and financial impacting these individuals, going against expectations and signifying a gap in coverage.”

What might help individuals better understand their bills is if they are provided more information before receiving treatment. Only 53% of respondents said they were told in advance how much a visit was going to cost, and 60% said they were somewhat likely to pay a bill upfront when an estimate is provided.

The average out-of-pocket expense for individuals remained near their highest levels ever, according to TransUnion. The average inpatient out-of-pocket expense was down 5% from 2019, to $5,002, while the average outpatient expense was up 6% to $1,095, and the average emergency room visit was up 7%, to $485.

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