Healthcare News & Insights

Health care costs pushing more into poverty levels

The fast-rising cost of even basic health care is straining families’ budgets — and is a major factor in pushing some households into de facto poverty.

That’s the takeaway of a new report by the Census Bureau (downloadable pdf). The report used a new experimental “supplemental poverty measure” to better determine the effect of health costs. The supplemental poverty measure adjusts for in-kind income, such as food stamps, as well as major costs like payroll taxes, in an effort to provide a more realistic picture of families’ incomes and expenses.

The measure indicates that when health care costs are subtracted from family incomes, another 10 million Americans would be classified as poor.

That translates into an increase of 3.3 percentage points of  the national poverty rate. And all age groups are affected: When health costs are taken into consideration, another 2 million children, 5 million working-age adults, and 3 million seniors fall below the poverty threshold.

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