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Ipsos/Amino Poll: 63% of Americans Think a Large Medical Bill That They Can't Afford is Worse Than or Equal to a Serious Illness

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 03/21/17 -- Amino, a healthcare transparency company, today released the results of a poll conducted by global market research firm Ipsos that identifies Americans' sentiments and behaviors around rising healthcare costs in today's current economic and political climate.

The findings reveal that Americans are concerned about healthcare costs and coping in a variety of ways, some of which might not be sustainable in the long run (for instance, avoiding the doctor). However, almost half of Americans are currently budgeting at least $50 per month for healthcare so there's hope that the category could become a more prominent personal finance issue as better and more accessible transparency tools emerge.

The following findings are from an Ipsos poll conducted February 23 - 24, 2017 on behalf of Amino. For the survey, a nationally representative sample of 1,006 U.S. adults over the age of 18 was interviewed online, in English. Additional methodology can be found below.

Key Findings

As Healthcare Costs Rise, So Do Americans' Fear and Confusion

  • Three quarters of Americans (74%) say their healthcare costs have gone up in the past few years.
  • More than half of Americans (53%) perceive being diagnosed with a serious illness as being just as bad as receiving a large medical bill that they can't afford. An additional 10% think receiving a large medical bill is actually worse than a serious illness.
  • Unemployed people (63%), people over 55 years old (63%), and lower income earners (60%) are the most likely groups to find a large medical bill more or equally detrimental to being diagnosed with a serious illness.
  • Alongside fear, confusion: 64% of Americans want to lower their healthcare costs, but don't know how.

The Majority of Americans Have Received Medical Bills They Couldn't Afford

  • Over half of Americans (55%) say they have received a medical bill that they did not have funds set aside to pay at some point.
    • Women (62%) are more likely to report that they have received a medical bill they couldn't afford, as compared to (47%) of men.
  • Today, more than one third of Americans (37%) say they could not afford an unexpected medical bill for more than $100 without going into debt.
    • Nearly half of women (44%) would go into debt if they received an unexpected medical bill of $100 or more, as compared to one in four men (27%).
  • For context, here are the cost of common procedures based on Amino's cost estimates:
    • New patient office visit: $155
    • Allergy skin tests: $667
    • Broken foot repair (non-surgical): $553
  • With the cost of healthcare rising, fewer than one in four Americans (23%) are able to cover an unexpected medical bill more than $2,000.

Tactics Americans Are Using to Avoid High Medical Bills

  • When it comes to avoiding high medical bills, maintaining good insurance coverage (39%) is the top strategy used by Americans.
    • Yet roughly half (49%) agree that their insurance doesn't provide them with enough information to determine their healthcare costs. Millennials (57%) are among the most likely to agree.
    • And less than a third (32%) currently contribute to a health savings account (HSA) that allows them to save money tax-free for medical expenses.
  • More than half of people (55%) call ahead to ask medical providers about the cost of treatment before booking an appointment or procedure.
  • One in five (19%) report that not going to the doctor is their main strategy to avoid paying high medical bills.
    • More than half of people without insurance (56%) avoid the doctor altogether.
    • Millennials (27%) are also a group more likely to avoid costs by avoiding the doctor.
  • But Americans aren't trying everything to lower their bills, as only 7% of people would research doctors, facilities or costs ahead of time to avoid high bills.

Healthcare In the American Household Budget

  • Less than half (46%) of Americans budget at least $50 per month for healthcare. They are more likely to be budgeting at least $50 monthly for food (79%), transportation (59%) and debt payments (49%)
  • Those who have received an unexpected medical bill in the past are significantly more likely to budget for their health and medical expenses (54%) than those who have not (37%).
  • For those who do budget for their healthcare, 34% save for doctor visits and services, 28% for prescription drugs, and 28% insurance premiums.
  • Americans are most concerned about the cost of major surgeries or emergencies (33%), yet only 15% are setting aside funds for such unexpected health costs. Insurance premiums (24%) are also top ranked in terms of Americans' concerns around rising healthcare costs.
  • Neglecting to save for medical expenses may be partially explained by lack of awareness. For example, the median network rate (what a patient + their insurance company would pay combined) to fix a broken arm in America is $1,100, yet most Americans (46%) estimate it costs less than $500. Only 7% of Americans estimated within the correct price range.

For further information on the survey, please visit here or Amino's blog.

About Amino
Amino is a healthcare transparency company that connects everyone to better, more affordable care. Only Amino's data covers nearly every doctor in America and billions in healthcare spending. Amino's free consumer products deliver personalized results to help people easily estimate their costs and book appointments with doctors. The company is based in San Francisco and is backed by Accel Partners, Charles River Ventures, Rock Health, and notable individual investors.

About Ipsos
Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.
With offices in 87 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media, customer loyalty, marketing, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of EUR 1,785.3 million ($1,981 million) in 2015. Visit www.ipsos.com to learn more about Ipsos' offerings and capabilities.

Survey Methodology
These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted February 23 - 24, 2017 on behalf of Amino. For the survey, a sample of 1,006 U.S. adults over the age of 18 was interviewed online, in English. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

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