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Not a Cure-All: 20% of Insured Americans Still Crushed by Medical Bills

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A new survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the New York Times revealed health insurance doesn’t guarantee relief from the burden of medical expenses in the United States.

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The poll considered responses from 2,500 working-age American citizens, both with and without health insurance. They were asked whether they had problems paying for medical bills, and the results released on Tuesday are quite disappointing.

More than half — 53% — of those uninsured admitted that they struggled trying to cover expenses from medical treatment. One woman confessed she had no money to pay for a $636 ultrasound that she had before miscarrying her baby, the Guardian reported.

"I was eligible for pregnancy-related Medicaid, but it wasn't billed right and a year and a half later I got the bill," her testimony read. "I am still trying to get it straightened out."

Even worse, Americans with insurance aren't immune either, for incidental expenses seem to pop out out of nowhere, in many cases as a result of a one-time or short-term medical condition following an accident. One in five insured Americans reported struggling to make ends meet.

Some had no choice but skip or delay health care in the past year because of the cost.

"I had a tooth that went bad and had to have it pulled," one respondent explained. "I now need another tooth in its place. The dentist wants all the money for the procedure up front. I do not have thousands of dollars to give."

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In order to get out of the debt hole, six in ten of those questioned said they had to tap in to their savings; more than 70% saw a solution in sacrificing household purchases and cancelling vacations, 41% were forced to either find a second job or work more hours. Some people even asserted that they had to "sell everything they could spare," including their homes.

The number of people with health insurance may be gradually increasing in the US, but the survey's results show that one in five insured Americans still face similar financial challenges to those without insurance.

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