Financial hardships loom large for the seriously ill, even with insurance

A survey of some of the most seriously ill people in the U.S. showed that even those with insurance can often face financial ruin from health care costs.

The survey, led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in partnership with the New York Times and the Commonwealth Fund, polled 1,495 adults who either had a serious illness or were caring for someone who did. The researchers found that among those with health insurance, 21% had trouble paying for basic necessities, 13% had borrowed money as a result of their illness, and 29% had bills in collection.

The findings also showed that 31% of respondents were unsure what their health insurance would pay for, while 42% had received a hospital bill that their insurance had not fully covered. More than a quarter of respondents said a treatment recommended by their physician was denied by their insurance.

“What’s staggering here is there’s no way people could know what they would be in for,” said

Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard Chan School and co-director of the survey, in an October 17, 2018 New York Times article that detailed the survey findings. “They don’t know what their insurance covers. The consequences for people are quite extraordinary.”

Read the New York Times article: 1,495 Americans Describe the Financial Reality of Being Really Sick