Preventing Medical Debt From Disrupting Health and Financial Health: A Systems-Level Overview
This report provides an issue overview of the national medical debt crisis, describing its prevalence and effects on consumers, how medical debt functions as a social determinant of health and driver of health inequities, opportunities to prevent it, and long-term strategies for impact.
Throughout the series, we explore three key strategies for preventing medical debt.
Aligning financial assistance and benefits with consumer needs
Helping consumers make informed decisions
Proactively identifying consumers at risk of medical debt to target financial assistance and benefits
Who Can Help Prevent Medical Debt?
These recommendations are intended to inform hospitals and health systems, insurers, and employers sponsoring commercial insurance. While these stakeholders may be best positioned to drive immediate impact on medical debt, other healthcare players – including other healthcare providers and those in pharmaceuticals and government – can adapt and apply these insights for further impact.
Patient and consumer advocates can also champion these high-impact strategies for preventing medical debt, and the disruption of health and financial health that often follows.
Drivers and Impacts of Medical Debt
While many upstream factors lead to medical debt, this report series focuses on interventions that healthcare stakeholders can implement to prevent medical debt.
Explore the Full Series
Recommendations for Hospitals and Health Systems
Read about actionable strategies healthcare providers should take now to improve financial assistance and repayment programs, support informed patient decision-making, and proactively identify patients at risk for medical debt to target financial assistance.
Discover opportunities insurance providers should seize now to help members navigate plan selection, understand key terminology, reduce out-of-pocket expenses, utilize preventive care, and improve administrative processes that affect customers.
Find out about proactive steps employers should take now to assess employee health insurance affordability, educate their workforce on insurance basics and out-of-pocket costs, help workers manage healthcare expenses, and offer plans based on employees’ needs and circumstances.
While the goal of the American health care system is to improve health and well-being, it triggers financial hardship for many people. One in five U.S. households have incurred medical debt, making it the most common form of unpaid bill for which consumers are contacted by debt collectors, and a reason why many people forgo getting the health care they need.
This report shines a light on employer decisions around health insurance and how those decisions have helped shape the medical debt crisis, explaining specific actions employers should take now to reduce employee financial stress while improving productivity and retention.
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