Study: Uninsured can't pay hospital bills

May 10, 2011 at 12:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- Few uninsured families can pay their hospital bills in full, paying on average 12 percent of the total, a U.S. government report indicated.

Hospital stays for which the uninsured cannot pay the full amount account for 95 percent of the total amount hospitals bill them, the Department of Health and Human Services report released Tuesday indicated.

Other studies estimated bills for all types of healthcare that the uninsured cannot pay could be up to $73 billion a year, a significant portion of which is folded into higher costs for insured workers and their employers, the department said.

"One of the most enduring myths in American healthcare is that people without health insurance can get care with little or no problem. Nothing could be farther from the truth," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "The result is families going without care or facing healthcare bills they can't hope to pay."

When uninsured patients receive care for which they cannot pay," that cost must be absorbed by other payers," Sebelius said. "This is why expanding access to affordable health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is so important."

The department said about 50 million Americans are uninsured. Its report found most uninsured people have virtually no savings.

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