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Fewer Americans Struggling With Medical Bills

U.S. report shows 12 million are no longer in families having trouble paying for health care

TUESDAY, Dec. 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer American families are struggling to pay medical bills, a new U.S. government report says.

During the first six months of 2015, about 44.5 million people under 65 (16.5 percent) had problems paying their medical bills. That number was down from 56.5 million (21 percent) in 2011, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The report also found that fewer children were in families that had trouble paying their medical bills. In 2011, 23 percent of children under 17 lived in families that had difficulty paying for medical care. During the first six months of 2015, that percentage had dropped to 18 percent, the report revealed.

In the first six months of 2015, nearly 30 percent of Americans younger than 65 without insurance were in families that had trouble paying medical bills in the past 12 months. About 22 percent of those with public insurance, and 13 percent of those with private insurance who were under 65 were in families that had difficulty paying medical bills in the past year, the report said.

Unsurprisingly, poor or near-poor families were more likely to struggle to pay medical bills. In the first six months of 2015, about one-quarter of those who were poor or near-poor and under 65 were in families that had trouble paying for health care in the past year. Of those who weren't poor, just 12 percent were in families that had problems with their health care bills in the previous year, the report said.

NCHS researchers Robin Cohen and Jeannine Schiller used information from the National Health Interview Survey from January 2011 through June 2015 for the new report, which was released Tuesday.

More information

Healthcare.gov has information about getting health insurance.


SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Dec. 8, 2015

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