Recent health care access gains may have started to level off, or even reverse, sometime this year, according to new National Health Interview Survey data.
People who have private health coverage, and people in higher income families, told survey workers in the first half of this year that they were having more problems with paying bills for medical services and products.
The percentage of U.S. residents under age 65 in families reporting medical bill problems increased to 12.7 percent in the first half of this year, up from 12.1 percent in 2015.
For people under age 65 in families classified as “not poor,” the percentage with medical bill problems jumped to 12.6 percent from 12 percent.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency that runs the National Health Interview Survey program, has been reporting data on medical bill problems in the current format since 2011.
This year, the medical bill problem rates for privately insured people and non-poor people increased for the first time since the start of the current data series. The rates are now close to what they were in 2014, according to the new report.
For privately insured people under age 65, the medical bill problem rate fell to 12.8 percent in 2014, after many Affordable Care Act coverage expansion programs and coverage requirements kicked in. That was down from a problem rate of 14.9 percent in 2011.
For non-poor people under 65, the medical bill problem rate fell to 12.8 percent in 2014, from 15.2 percent in 2011.