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Kentuckians Are Still Having Trouble Affording Health Care

Phalinn Ooi/Creative Commons

Kentucky adults still have a hard time affording health care, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

In 2015, one in five Kentucky adults either didn't get care or delayed care due to cost, according to the report. That's down from 2014 and 2009, when 22 percent and 32 percent, respectively, went without needed care due to cost.

Susan Zepeda, president of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said having insurance coverage is a great start, but it doesn't always get the whole job done.

"Although more and more Kentuckians are able to get the care they need in a timely manner, they're is still work to be done," she said. "There are still people who are delaying care or finding that they're unable to handle the medical bills after they receive care."

Kentuckians earning 138 percent or less of the federal poverty level were more likely to delay or forego medical care than those who earned above that, according to the report. Under the Affordable Care Act, Kentuckians earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level became eligible for Medicaid. More than 400,000 residents are now on the rolls, although Gov. Matt Bevin has said he will seek to modify the program.

Delaying care was also a common choice among 27 percent of uninsured Kentuckians.

The poll also asked whether Kentucky adults had any problems paying medical bills. In 2015, 28 percent of respondents said they experienced difficulties paying. When broken down by insurance status, 27 percent of insured and 31 percent of uninsured adults had trouble paying medical bills. In 2014, nearly half of uninsured adults reported having difficulties paying those bills.

Zepeda said individuals and families having a tough time paying medical bills should speak with their health care provider.

"Always the best option is to begin with the care provider to seek some kind of relief either in the form of delaying your payments or perhaps negotiating a lower payment amount," Zepeda said.

The poll was produced by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

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