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Survey: Health insurance net is better, but still has holes

When it comes to topics around the water cooler weather probably tops the list. Coming in a close second in Illinois workplaces may well be the economy. Financial stability is something that has been top of mind for almost everyone since at least 2007. And even though the recession that hit about then is officially over, there are ominous predictions that we might be on the verge of another.

The enactment of the Affordable Care Act is something that was supposed to help alleviate some of that worry. But as we noted in a post in September 2014, anxiety over medical bills was riding high at the time.

Twenty-five percent of respondents to a Bankrate.com survey at the time said they owed more for medical bills than they had in their savings accounts. Conditions were worse for those making below $30,000 a year. And 55 percent of those who had no medical debt at all revealed that they were either somewhat or very worried about what would happen in a medical emergency.

Health insurance is supposed to ease those worries and considering that the number of uninsured Americans has declined by some 15 million, you might think that anxiety levels have gone down. But that doesn't seem to have happened.

According to a poll by The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly 20 percent of individuals who are of working age -- set at 65 or below -- said they had trouble paying their medical bills in the past year. Of those who have no insurance at all, the rate is 53 percent.

Experts suggest that the source of the concern is the shift that has taken place in the insurance industry. Though health care costs aren't rising as fast as they were, the trend continues upward. Meanwhile, a greater share of that rising cost is being borne by consumers, many of whom are finding they may be underinsured.

As a result, medical bills mount. Not only does health suffer, but many find it hard to pay for housing and food. This can prompt questions about whether to seek the protections available through bankruptcy. To understand the implications of such action, an experienced attorney should be consulted.

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