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Medical Debt Toll in California Highlights Need for Affordable Health Care

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
New report shows toll taken on Californians from medical debt.

A new report highlights the toll medical debt has taken on Californians. In 2009, 2.6 million non-elderly Californians had some kind of medical debt, according to data. The report highlights the need for implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Findings from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) - "State of Health Insurance in California” - published every two years, showed medical debt was highest for people uninsured for the entire year.

Compared to 2007, there were 400,000 more Californians with medical debt in 2009. Half of

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"No Californian should have to take on debt to pay medical bills or go without access to health care just because they lost their job," said Shana Alex Lavarreda, lead author of the report and director of health insurance studies at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "As this recession has so clearly shown us, linking health care to a volatile job market puts us all at risk."

Dr. Robert K. Ross, CEO and president of The California Endowment says the data from the report “clearly” shows the need for implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act from rising medical debt that is increasing annually.

The report shows the toll medical debt has taken on Californians from the economic downturn. Ross says the burden on our healthcare system is not economically sustainable. On a positive note, the finding shows the benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act.

UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
"The State of Health Insurance in California: Findings from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey"
February, 2012