Uninsured patients can afford to pay an estimated 5% of the amount hospitals bill for medical care, federal researchers report in a newly released analysis of household assets. That amounts to roughly 12% of the cost for care provided to the 2.1 million uninsured who were admitted to hospitals in 2008, according to the report.
Hospital bills beyond reach of uninsured: study
The report, by HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, reviewed household assets, by income, among the uninsured in 2006-07, as well as hospital bills and the cost of hospital care in 2008. The analysis included bills for patients admitted to the hospital but did not include other charges, such as physician, ambulance services or post-acute care.
Households with higher income had more assets and could afford to cover a larger share of hospital bills and costs, the researchers estimated. Uninsured households with income of at least 400% of the federal poverty guideline could afford to pay for 25% of hospital bills in 2008 and 36% of hospital costs, according to the report.
The study compared median assets, by income, among uninsured and insured households. Uninsured households with income below 200% of the federal threshold for poverty had no assets. Among the insured with similar income, the report found median assets totaled $500. Uninsured and insured households with income above 200% and below 400% of the poverty threshold had $300 and $5,000, respectively. Uninsured households claimed $4,100 in assets among those with income of at least 400% of the poverty level. Meanwhile, insured households' assets totaled $50,000.
Researchers defined assets as checking and savings accounts and other assets that could be easily converted to cash, including retirement accounts, money-market funds, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and certificates of deposits.
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