According to a recent study, Americans are struggling to pay medical bills and are gathering medical debt at an increasing rate. Incomes are not able to sustain the growing costs of health-care. The study also noted that as gas and food prices are rising and the real estate market is falling, the federal minimum wage is three dollars an hour lower, in real terms, than it was forty years ago. In 2007, two-thirds of the working age population were uninsured, underinsured, reported a medical bill problem or did not receive needed healthcare because of the cost. More than two in five adults in the nineteen to sixty-four age range reported problems with an accumulated medical debt or had trouble paying medical bills also; this number was up from one in three adults in 2005.
Paying health-care costs is limiting expenditure on daily necessities. For example, of those facing escalating medical bills, thirty-nine percent used all of their savings, thirty percent incurred large credit card debt, and twenty-nine percent said the bills left them unable to afford basic necessities like food, rent or heat. The study also found a rise in people spending more than ten percent of their salary on health-care. The insured are also facing problems. Sixty-one percent of those with medical debt were insured when they needed medical attention.
The survey showed the health-care divide between poor and moderate-income families is narrowing and even middle to upper class families are going without health-care sometime during the year. The figure among people making moderate-income, or $20,000 to $40,000, that do not have health insurance increased from twenty-eight percent to forty-one percent. The foundation that performed the study insists universal health-care is the way to go; its design would dictate its effectiveness.