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Health Care Costs Sent Americans Into $88B Debt in Last Year

Survey also finds one-quarter of Americans have held off on treatments due to cost
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2019 8:20 AM CDT
Americans borrowed $88 billion last year to pay for their health care needs.   (Getty Images/PLG)

(Newser) – As the Trump administration continues to try to dismantle ObamaCare, with a GOP plan now not expected until after the 2020 election, some sobering statistics have emerged underscoring the necessity for affordable health care. Per the New York Times, a survey released Tuesday by Gallup and the West Health nonprofit shows about 25% of respondents have held off on medical treatment because of the cost, while 45% are afraid they'll go bankrupt in the event of a "major health event," per a release. Another big number from the survey, which polled 3,500 US adults by phone in early 2019: the $88 billion Americans have borrowed over the past year to pay for health care. "Our data shows an American public that's beaten down from this really serious issue," a Gallup researcher tells the Times.

Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they're "completely" or "mostly" satisfied with the current health-care system based on their own experiences, though that number plunges to 39% when asked how well the system takes care of Americans in general. There's also a schism between Republicans and Democrats, with 67% of self-identified GOPers saying the US system is the best or one of the best in the world, while only 38% of Democrats say the same. However, "there is very little that separates the groups when it comes to the real-life consequences of the high cost of health care on their everyday lives," Tim Lash, West Health's chief strategy officer, says in the release. "The time has come to take politics out of the equation and deal with the realities of the health care cost crisis with bipartisan and common-sense solutions that serve all Americans." (Read more health care stories.)

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