Americans are facing increased medical costs during the Wuhan virus pandemic. Although the stock market is soaring, many Americans are still in a financially precarious state According to a study run by West Health and Gallup, 50 percent of respondents were “extremely concerned/concerned” about potentially facing bankruptcy in the case of having to shoulder significant healthcare expenses. This number marked a five percent increase from 2019, when 45 percent of respondents expressed similar sentiments.
Of the segments studied in this report, minority households saw the largest increase in their financial concerns regarding emergency medical expenses. The response went from 52 percent in 2019 to 64 percent in July.
The West Health and Gallup survey questioned 1,000 American adults from July to July 24. The survey discovered that millennials and Generation X were “extremely concerned/concerned” about financial hardship if they ended up having to shoulder significant medical costs.
According to respondents, at least one person in their household has medical debt that cannot be paid in full or within the next year or so. Such a case held true for 12 percent of white adults and 20 percent for minorities. As far as social classes were concerned, low-income respondents indicated a higher chance of not repaying medical debt when compared to households making north of $100,000.
Additionally, Gallup highlighted how about a quarter of all U.S. adults have to take out a loan to pay off a $500 bill.
Gallup covered this in more detail:
With substantial percentages of adults reporting that they currently have medical debt that they cannot pay in a year or less, it is probably unsurprising that 26% report they would need to borrow money to pay a $500 medical bill. To do this, 12% say they would use a credit card or get a loan from a financial institution, while another 14% would borrow from a family member or friend. For some persons, these forms of borrowing could ordinarily be characterized by prompt repayment (such as simply paying off the credit card at the end of the month), but for many others, it is likely to feed into a cycle of accumulating medical debt that cannot be readily repaid.
The need to borrow money to pay a $500 medical bill is particularly common among non-White adults (43%) and those living in households earning less than $40,000 per year (46%).
According to the survey respondents, lowering the cost of prescription drugs is a key issue that will be on their minds as they cast their ballots on November 3.
The study observed that, “the sharp rise in U.S. healthcare costs, which was already a significant problem for Americans before the COVID-19 pandemic, has only been exacerbated by new challenges presented by the outbreak.”
It added, “14% of Americans with likely COVID-19 symptoms reported that they would avoid care because of cost, and 88% are concerned about rising drug costs due to the pandemic. These COVID-19-related cost worries also come with a substantial racial divide.”
According to ZeroHedge, “The survey was conducted in pre-fiscal cliff conditions. Readers may recall a quarter of all personal income in the U.S. is derived from the government, which means households are more pressured than ever to service their bills.“
Indeed, many working class Americans are in a precarious financial situation now that they are potentially one hospital visit away from bankruptcy.
Although it’s easy to blame free markets for the U.S.’s rising healthcare costs, there is a significant amount of regulation in the healthcare sector— from onerous licensing to regulations on life-saving drugs — that makes healthcare in America is so expensive.
Policymakers will need to start talking about reducing red tape in the medical sector and bringing back healthcare decision-making to the state and local level.
That way, Americans will have more choices and affordable options for healthcare.