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High patient costs can lead to injuries and skimping on care

With more patients having to pay for costly health insurance, financial responsibility has grown in the United States. This responsibility can hinder positive outcomes for patients. Why? They may have to skimp on their health care, because they may not have the finances needed to pay for expensive procedures or medical visits.

An Oct. 11 report stated that the Morning Consult and the American College of Emergency Physicians have shown that those who have to skimp on health care actually may have conditions that decline over the long term. The surveys performed by these agencies showed that financial responsibility can get in the way of emergency health care.

What that means overall is that patients are waiting to seek care until a medical condition is to the point where it is affecting their life regularly or results in an emergency. Thirty percent of the patients who were polled stated that their health care coverage got worse over the last year, and 55 percent said they are paying more than they did the year before. The higher cost has resulted in 30 percent of patients reporting that they have avoided emergency treatments because they worried about high costs.

Worrying about money instead of seeking medical care can result in serious harm coming to a patient. For example, someone who believes that he or she has indigestion or stomach cramps may actually be suffering from a serious infection or appendicitis. By putting off emergency care, the patient is putting his or her life at risk.

Medical debt doesn't have to make you avoid treatment. Your health is the first priority; if you have medical debt to deal with, then payment plans and other ways to negotiate your debts are possible.

Source: PatientEngagementHIT.com, "High Patient Financial Responsibility Reduces Positive Outcomes," Sara Heath, Oct. 11, 2016

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