Residents of Certain States Struggle With Medical Debt More Than Others

HealthDay News — Significantly more adults in Florida and Texas struggle to pay medical bills or pay off medical debt over time compared with residents of New York and California, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report released Friday.

Comparing health coverage in the four largest states, researchers found that 40% of adults in Florida and Texas have trouble paying medical bills or said they’re paying over time, compared to 30% in the state of New York and 25% of those in California. 

The researchers also found that 43%of those in Florida and Texas said they didn’t see a doctor when sick; didn’t fill a prescription; skipped a medical test, treatment, or follow-up; or didn’t get needed specialist care in the past 12 months because of cost. This compared with about 30% in California and New York.

Uninsured rates among working-age adults were 30% in Texas, 21% in Florida, 17% in California, and 12% in New York. Uninsured rates among adults with low incomes were 51% in Texas, 33% in Florida, 23% in California, and 13% in New York. 

Uninsured rates for young adults, aged 19 to 34, were 34% in Texas, 26% in Florida, 23% in California, and 14% in New York. Among adults with insurance, 39% in Florida and 36% in Texas said they had at least one problem getting needed care in the past 12 months because of cost, compared with 28% in California and 27% in New York.

California and New York fully expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but Texas and Florida did not, the report authors explained. “Fully expanding Medicaid would help reduce the high uninsured rates in Florida and Texas” and help people afford the care they need, Sara Collins, PhD, vice president for health care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, said in a foundation news release.

Learn more about medical debt burdens.