Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Adults with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, or ASCVD, are having a tough time paying to treat their condition, a study says.
More than 45 percent of non-elderly adults with ASCVD have financial troubles brought on by medical bills, and one in five say they can't pay their medical bills at all, according to a study published this month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
"It is remarkably disheartening to see how many people suffer severe financial adverse effects of having atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease," Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and director of the Yale Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, said in a news release. "We have much work to do to ensure that people are spared the financial toxicity of disease that is imposed by our current healthcare system."
In all, nearly four million non-elderly people have financial hardship linked to paying medical bills.
As a result of the hardship, ASCVD patients are cutting their medication dosage at the same rates across income levels and insurance status. This finding conflicts with past studies that reported most medication skimping only occurred in low-income families and among seniors of color.
The researchers also note that, among the 19 percent of people who couldn't pay their bills at all, all were insured.
"While one may expect financial hardship to predominantly affect those without insurance, we found that the majority of individuals with ASCVD suffering from financial hardship were insured, pointing towards inadequate protection with greater cost shifting towards patients and their families," said Javier Valero-Elizondo, a postdoctoral associate at Yale CORE. "Broader policy actions will be needed to mitigate exposure to perils of underinsurance."
Each year, more than 600,000 people die from heart disease.
"This brewing burden will likely act as a key catalyst in driving a major policy shift toward a single-payer healthcare system in the United States," said Khurram Nasir, a researcher at Yale CORE and study senior author.