According to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), one-quarter of non-elderly American adults don't possess the financial resources to pay their deductible. Despite more Americans with medical policies, a significant portion of those with coverage can't afford to cover their own liability for care.
This trend is the result of high-deductible insurance policies, which have grown in popularity during the last several years. With a higher deductible, policyholders often enjoy more affordable premium payments, lessening the annual burden on healthy individuals. Many employers have resorted to high-deductible policies to assume less financial liability, shifting more of the responsibility onto employees to cover medical costs.
"High-deductible plans, especially those paired with a funded health savings account may be a good alternative for those that are healthy or have the financial means to cover the costs of a medical emergency," explains Beth Braverman of MSN Money. "However, the KFF report finds that as deductibles creep beyond the scope of savings, consumers are likely to either put off care or rack up medical debt."
It was long believed that the most vulnerable people are those without insurance. While that continues to be true, the study shows that even those who obtain coverage through employers, individual plans or government programs can still assume more debt than they're capable of paying down. This can produce a cycle of indebtedness that damages credit scores and puts pressure on collection professionals to track down payments.
For health care providers, this problem can create an overwhelming caseload of patients who accrue debt. In order to focus on the most high-priority cases on file, administrators can outsource receivables management. This reduces backlog and makes medical accounts receivable offices more efficient.