We've spent a lot of time over the past couple of years talking about soaring healthcare premiums brought on by Obamacare. The price increases have been outright crippling for those forced to buy policies on the exchanges, up well over 100% over the past 4 years, on average, with some states up over 200%.
But premiums aren't the only part of health plans that have soared under Obamacare. For those people who are lucky enough to actually be able to afford a plan, you simply bought yourself the opportunity to cover even more of your healthcare costs out of pocket as deductibles have also soared.
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.