Americans borrowed $88 billion over past year for health care, survey finds

Americans borrowed $88 billion over past year for health care, survey finds
Americans borrow billions of dollars to cover health care costs, a new survey finds.

(CNN) – Americans borrowed a staggering $88 billion in the past year to pay for health care, according to a West Health-Gallup survey released Tuesday.

About one in eight Americans surveyed had to resort to borrowing to afford care in the previous year.

Nearly a quarter also had to cut back on spending to pay for health care or medicine.

Sixty-five million adults said they had a health issue but did not seek treatment because of the cost, with 45 percent worrying that a major health event could lead them to bankruptcy.

"Not only do you have a real significant number that are deferring care, forgoing care altogether, you also have a big chunk that are getting the care but having to borrow to get it," said Dan Witters, Gallup senior researcher. "There are few Americans out there who are safe from the American health care cost crisis."

The survey said that the U.S. spends more than any other country on health care yet consistently ranks near the bottom of major health indices.

But many Americans surveyed still view the U.S. health care system quite favorably.

Nearly two-thirds say they are “completely” or “mostly” satisfied with their personal experiences with the medical system.

Nearly half of people think the quality of care in the country is best or among the best in the world. That number swells to 67 percent among self-identified Republicans, but decreases to 38 percent among Democrats.

According to the executive summary of the survey: “Despite the financial burden and fears caused by high healthcare costs, partisan filters lead to divergent views of the healthcare system at large: By a wide margin, more Republicans than Democrats consider the quality of care in the U.S. to be the best or among the best in the world — all while the U.S. significantly outspends other advanced economies on healthcare with dismal outcomes on basic health indicators such as infant mortality and heart attack mortality.”

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