New data from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) indicate that while the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”) has made sure more Americans have health insurance, it has done little to make care more affordable across the board. While nearly 90% of the country has coverage, NBER statistics show that more people than ever find basic healthcare unaffordable. A recent study of over 1 million patients from 2003 to 2007 illustrates just how difficult the economics are for many. Adults aged 50 to 64 with insurance can expect their out-of-pocket medical expenses to increase by an average of $1,000 every year after a trip to the emergency room; at the same time, average annual incomes drop by $7,000 because of missed work or loss of a job. According to the study, the minority of still-uninsured Americans incurred an average debt of $6,200 as a result of hospitalization. Urgent care operators may be able to make inroads with payers and local employers by comparing such costs associated with visits to the ED vs the cost of urgent care visits for common, lower-acuity complaints.
New Data: Hospital Bills Don’t Discriminate Between Insured and Uninsured