1 in 5 Americans in families with problems paying medical bills

February 10, 2012

The percentage of Americans in families having trouble paying medical bills in 2010 stayed unchanged from 2007, despite the end of the recession, according to a new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

About one in five Americans-20.9%-were in families that reported problems paying medical bills in 2010, about the same proportion as in 2007, according to a new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

The findings surprised researchers, who thought the recession and rising healthcare costs would have made the numbers worse. Researchers speculated the lack of increase might be due to decreased use of medical care among people who lost jobs and health insurance and others who cut back on medical care because of economic uncertainty.

Although the percentage of Americans in families with problems paying medical bills was unchanged from 2007 to 2010, it remains higher than in 2003, when it was 15.1%. Of those families struggling with medical costs, about two-thirds reported problems paying for other necessities, and 25% were considering declaring bankruptcy.