“This is an issue that affects consumer confidence and the broader economy.”
Bankrate.com's findings echo earlier reports from other organizations investigating healthcare debt and collections in recent years. In 2012, 41% of adults between the ages of 19 and 64 reported they had medical debt or trouble paying their medical bills, according to The Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, released in April 2013. Of those who indicated difficulties in paying medical bills or covering medical debt, 42% said their credit rating went down as a result.
The same survey also found that 43% of adults had skipped or delayed getting needed healthcare or filling a prescription because of the associated cost. And even with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or perhaps as a result of the public's growing experience with health insurance, the majority of Americans are fearful that they will not have affordable health coverage in the future.
In the Bankrate.com survey, which sampled 1,006 adults, 55% reported concern over having affordable health insurance, with Republicans, women, and Americans between the ages of 30 and 64 expressing the greatest worry.
“With the Affordable Care Act, anybody who now wants insurance can get it,” David Cusano, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, told Bankrate.com. “The question now becomes: 'Can I afford to use it?' When you think about people confronting out-of-pocket maximums at around $7,000, or deductibles of $5,000 for a family, that's a lot of money. You throw prescription drug co-pays into the mix, and I can see where you would be worried.”
Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden