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(Bloomberg) — One in four U.S. families struggled to pay medical bills in 2012, and 1 in 10 said they had costs they couldn’t pay at all, according to a government survey.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found lack of health insurance increased the burden of medical debt.

But 21 percent of the participants in families in which all members were insured reported having trouble paying medical bills.

PPACA supporters contend that PPACA will ease medical bill problems among the insured as well as the uninsured, by putting national caps on insured families’ out-of-pocket spending on in-network care.

In the past, PPACA supporters say, some individual policies put no limits on out-of-pocket spending, or set extremely high limits.

But critics of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) have argued that the new public exchange plans could make matters worse, by exposing moderate-income families with exchange plans to out-of-pocket cost levels that are much higher than the levels required by typical group health policies.

Deductibles for some policies can reach $6,350 for a single person and $12,700 per family, according to a November analysis by HealthPocket Inc. of plans in seven states, including California and Ohio.

–Editors: Angela Zimm, Andrew Pollack

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