When it comes to out-of-pocket medical bills, many Americans don't have enough money in their pockets—or anywhere else—to cover what they might end up owing.
A new study finds that significant numbers of people have less money available in liquid assets than what they face in the maximum deductibles and total out-of-pocket health cost limits under insurance plans.
Only three in five households have enough liquid assets to meet a deductible of either $1,200 per individual or $2,400 per family, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation study. Only about half of U.S. households had enough such assets to cover higher deductibles of $2,500 per individual or $5,500 per family.
The situation only gets worse for households when considering their exposure to total out-of-pocket costs. Just 48 percent of households have enough liquid assets to cover what were considered to be the mid-range of such out-of-pocket health cost limits: $3,000 per individual and $6,000 per family, according to the Kaiser study.
Just 37 percent can meet the higher range of such costs, or $6,000 per individual and $12,000 per family, the study found.
People whose household incomes are moderate or lower-than-moderate have a tougher time scraping together enough cash to cover such costs, according to Kaiser.
But even among people who earn more than four times the federal poverty level, as many as 38 percent of of them lack enough available cash to pay the maximum amounts they would personally owe for health-care bills during a year.