Healthcare affordability improved between 2019 and 2022 as the result of several policies implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that protected and expanded access to subsidized health coverage.
Millions of people in America struggle to pay for healthcare, leading many to forgo care or accumulate medical debt. Lack of health insurance coverage is a key determinant of affordability.
The share of adults reporting difficulty paying medical bills decreased from 18.7 percent to 15 percent from 2019 to 2022. The share of adults who reported forgoing needed medical care due to cost in the past year declined by more than 4.5 percent (18.5% to 13.9%). The share of Black and Hispanic adults reporting difficulty paying medical bills and forgoing needed medical care due to its cost fell sharply, reaching rates closer to those of White adults by 2022.
Pandemic-era policies, including continuous coverage requirements and extended tax credits, helped make healthcare more affordable and narrow racial disparities in healthcare affordability.
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The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.
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