Medical Debt Burden Higher in Texas, Florida

Medical Debt Burden Higher in Texas, Florida
Medical Debt Burden Higher in Texas, Florida

(HealthDay News) — Significantly more adults in Florida and Texas struggle to pay medical bills or pay off medical debt over time compared with residents of New York and California, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report released Friday.

Comparing health coverage in the four largest states, researchers found that 40 percent of adults in Florida and Texas have trouble paying medical bills or said they're paying over time, compared to 30 percent in the state of New York and 25 percent of those in California. The researchers also found that 43 percent of those in Florida and Texas said they didn't see a doctor when sick; didn't fill a prescription; skipped a medical test, treatment, or follow-up; or didn't get needed specialist care in the past 12 months because of cost. This compared with about 30 percent in California and New York.

Uninsured rates among working-age adults were 30 percent in Texas, 21 percent in Florida, 17 percent in California, and 12 percent in New York. Uninsured rates among adults with low incomes were 51 percent in Texas, 33 percent in Florida, 23 percent in California, and 13 percent in New York. Uninsured rates for young adults, aged 19 to 34, were 34 percent in Texas, 26 percent in Florida, 23 percent in California, and 14 percent in New York. Among adults with insurance, 39 percent in Florida and 36 percent in Texas said they had at least one problem getting needed care in the past 12 months because of cost, compared with 28 percent in California and 27 percent in New York.

California and New York fully expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but Texas and Florida did not, the report authors explained. "Fully expanding Medicaid would help reduce the high uninsured rates in Florida and Texas" and help people afford the care they need, Sara Collins, Ph.D., vice president for health care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, said in a foundation news release.

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