Unaffordable Medical Bills as a Social Determinant of Health

A female patient and doctor sitting next to each other reviewing paperwork

TrustCommerce’s new eBook Unaffordable Medical Bills as a Social Determinant of Health examines the effects of rising healthcare costs and the impact of unaffordable medical bills on Americans, with suggested steps providers can take to help relieve the burden of these medical bills on their healthcare patients. 

 Experts have been exploring possible determinants of health for over 100 years. For much of the 20th century, disease and death could be closely linked to unhealthy environments and unsanitary conditions in the places people lived and worked. By the 1950s, attention turned toward implementing preventative health measures such as vaccinations and health screenings. The 1970s—1990s saw an increased awareness of how personal health behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, and activity level impacted disease prevention and death. However, it was not really until the mid 90s that experts began to understand the effect of social determinants of health (SDoH) such as housing, employment, education, etc. and how SDoHs contribute to inequities due to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Overshadowing all of this is people’s ability to pay for the care they need—an ability that has been rapidly diminishing.  

 It’s no secret that out-of-pocket healthcare costs have been soaring for years. However, out-of-pocket spending spiked 10.4 percent in 2021, the fastest rate of growth since 1985. According to CNN, Americans can expect these costs to continue rising significantly in 2023, as high inflation begins to affect healthcare costs and affordability. Rising costs and higher patient financial responsibility, combined with a struggling economy, are revealing a new SDoH—unaffordable medical bills. Patients’ inability to pay for the care they need contributes to the inequities and poor healthcare outcomes that already exist, which in turn causes costs to rise even more, creating a cycle that is difficult to break.  

 Explore the impact of the new social determinant of health, unaffordable medical bills and the effects of rising healthcare costs on all Americans, from the middle class to the most vulnerable among us, in our free eBook, Unaffordable Medical Bills as a Social Determinant of Health. We also provide actionable steps providers can take now to relieve the burden of unaffordable medical bills on their patients. Download the new TrustCommerce eBook today. There is a path to better health outcomes and less medical debt.  

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