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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2 Out Of 3 Patients Can't Afford Their Hospital Bills Thanks To Obamacare's Soaring Deductibles

2 Out Of 3 Patients Can't Afford Their Hospital Bills Thanks To Obamacare's Soaring Deductibles


In fact, a new study from TransUnion Healthcare reveals that 2 out of 3 patients (68%) couldn't afford to pay their hospital bills in full in 2016, up from 49% in 2014.
A new TransUnion Healthcare analysis revealed a significant rise in the percentage of patients that didn’t pay their hospital bills in full. Approximately 68% of patients with bills of $500 or less did not pay off the full balance during 2016 – up from 53% in 2015 and 49% in 2014.

“There are many reasons why more patients are struggling to make their healthcare payments in full, the most prominent of which are higher deductibles and the increase in patient responsibility from 10% to 30% over the last few years,” said Wiik, author of the book and also principal for healthcare revenue cycle management at TransUnion. “This shift in healthcare payments has been taking place for well over a decade, but we are seeing more pronounced changes in how hospital bills are paid during just the last few years.”
But that's not even the worst of it, patient responsibility on 14% of hospital bills in 2016 exceeded $3,000, an obligation which only 1% of patients were able to cover on a timely basis.
- 63% of hospital bills were $500 or less; of those hospital bills, 68% were not paid in full in 2016.

- 14% of hospital bills were $3,000 or more; of those hospital bills, 99% were not paid in full in 2016.

- 10% of hospital bills were $500 to $1,000; of those bills 85% were not paid in full in 2016.
Meanwhile, the soaring deductibles are putting even more pressure on razor thin hospital margins and have caused a rash of closures since 2010.  Per CNBC:
The Affordable Care Act has given more people access to health care, but it has driven deductibles up, in some cases, making it harder for patients to pay, said John Yount, TransUnion's vice president of product for the health-care division. Hospital margins are already between only 2 and 4 percent on average, Yount said, and that margin quickly narrows when more patients can't pay their bills.

"What it means is as a patient takes on more responsibility, then it is likely that that debt, which is a component of uncompensated care, has a potential to increase for hospitals," Yount said. "It's likely that as they provide services and their bad debt increases, it could be difficult to continue certain operations."

Since 2010, 79 rural hospitals have closed, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. Yount warned that number will continue to increase if more patients can't pay their bills.
So fight on, Democrats.  Obamacare is clearly a piece of legislation worth saving.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts:

Massachusetts dodges a bullet if GOP health-care bill collapses

The Senate GOP bill that would repeal ObamaCare was near collapse yesterday, after Maine. Sen. Susan Collins and other Republicans announced they wouldn’t vote for the legislation that the Congressional Budget Office says could increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million, reports the NYT. The crumbling support for the bill came after Gov. Charlie Baker, another Republican, informed the state’s Congressional delegation that the GOP plan could result in 264,000 Massachusetts residents losing their insurance and cost the state more than $8.2 billion in lost federal funds over the next eight years, reports the AP at the Telegram.

David Bernstein at WGBH takes a look at the political reverberations felt by the Senate plan across New England, with regional Republicans mostly feeling the heat: Baker in Massachusetts, Collins in Maine and Gov. Phil Scott in Vermont. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi wonders if Baker couldn’t be more of a leader on the health-care front: “It hasn’t been crickets from Baker. But it has been classic Charlie, which means cautious, clinical, and circumspect.”

Another Republican is speaking out against Senate plan: Jane Swift

Former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, a Republican, explains in a Globe op-ed why she’s against the Senate GOP health-care plan. She has a very personal reason: Her daughter, Lauren, who’s battling juvenile arthritis.

Boston Magazine

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