Medical costs that have to be paid by consumers - not covered by insurance - jumped more than 25% in the first half of 2013, and the percentage likely will rise in the next year, according to the latest TransUnion Healthcare Report.
As out-of-pocket costs on key medical procedures grows at a faster rate, the available revolving credit for consumers declined nearly $1,000 in the last year.
Average patient payment costs increased nearly 38% in the past year, from $1,862 in Q2 2012 to $2,568 in Q2 2013. Since the start of 2013, patient payment costs have risen more than $500 ($2,042 in Q4 2012). At the same time, the average consumers total revolving credit lines, such as those on bank-issued credit cards, store credit cards and home equity loans, has dropped from $34,855 in Q2 2012 to $33,884 in Q2 2013.
TransUnion reviewed anonymous data estimates from 200 hospitals across the nation, focusing on patient payment responsibilities for common procedures, including major joint replacement, cesarean section and natural birth deliveries.
The information was compared with financial data gathered from TransUnions proprietary Industry Insights Report.
The trend of growing consumer healthcare costs continued during the first six months of the year, and we suspect they may expand even more with the recent one-year grace period granted to some insurers for out-of-pocket expenses, said Milton Silva-Craig, president of TransUnion Healthcare.
Because of this extension, patients expecting to pay no more than the Affordable Care Acts prescribed cap for out-of-pocket expenses may find that they owe both the maximum amount for hospital services and an additional maximum amount for prescription drugs, and the added costs will make it more difficult for patients to pay their bills, Silva-Craig added.
On a positive note, average revolving debt dropped for the seventh straight quarter to $11,943 in Q2 2013, down almost 6% from the second quarter of 2012.