Medicare, Social Security, and Insurance

12/14/2023 | By Joey Solitro

Americans are grappling with insufficient health care coverage, resulting in postponing or skipping health care, substantial medical debts, and declining health conditions, according to a survey by The Commonwealth Fund.

Having health insurance does not guarantee affordable access to care, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s Health Care Affordability Survey of 7,873 adults. Individuals across various insurance sources — employer, marketplace, individual-market plans, Medicaid, and Medicare — reported difficulties affording care, the survey found.

While just over half of working-aged adults reported difficulties keeping up with health care costs, more than one-third reported delaying or skipping health care or a prescription drug in the past year because they could not afford it. In addition, nearly 60% of working-aged adults said that health problems got worse because of delayed or skipped care.

The issue of rising health care costs and medical debt has been gaining the attention of state and federal governments in recent years.

Pills and a piggy bank with bandages illustrating the risks of skipping health care.

In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the U.S. Treasury, and the Health and Human Services Department teamed up for a study of whether health care providers are promoting financial products, such as medical credit cards and loans, that raise debt and lead to higher consumer costs. In September, the CFPB launched a rulemaking process to remove medical bills from credit reports.

In the Commonwealth Fund survey, respondents who struggled to afford but did not delay or skip needed health care or prescription drugs and those that sought out care once their conditions worsened, said they were saddled with medical debt. Some 32% of working-age adults reported having medical or dental debt that they were paying off over time, and 36% said the debt caused them or a family member to delay or avoid getting needed health care.

Nearly 60% of working-age adults surveyed reported that 10% or more of their monthly budget went toward health care with more than one-third saying health care costs made it harder for them to afford other living expenses, including food, housing, and utilities.

Nearly two-thirds of working-aged adults said that price inflation in the economy affected their ability to afford health care, with 5% deciding to drop their insurance because of the cost and an additional 16% considering dropping their insurance.

The CFPB said it continues to receive complaints from the public about illegal debt collection and credit reporting practices related to medical billing. The agency encourages people to submit complaints about financial products or services at its website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

Joey Solitro is a contributing writer at For more on this and similar money topics, visit

©2023 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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