Analyzing patient data from across the country, TransUnion found just under half of patients did not pay off hospital bills of $500 or less two years ago. The company attributed the increase to higher deductibles and patient responsibility growing from 10 percent to 30 percent over the last few years.
The Affordable Care Act has given more people access to health care, but it has driven deductibles up, in some cases, making it harder for patients to pay, said John Yount, TransUnion’s vice president of product for the health-care division. Hospital margins are already between only 2 and 4 percent on average, Yount said, and that margin quickly narrows when more patients can’t pay their bills.
“What it means is as a patient takes on more responsibility, then it is likely that that debt, which is a component of uncompensated care, has a potential to increase for hospitals,” Yount said. “It’s likely that as they provide services and their bad debt increases, it could be difficult to continue certain operations.”
Here are some useful charts from the report: