BOSTON (CBS) – A new study from the American Cancer Society finds that more than 137 million American adults reported financial hardship due to medical costs over the past year.

Many patients pay out of pocket for medications, appointments, diagnostic tests and hospitalizations, which can lead to debt and financial stress. And as health care costs continue to rise and patients are increasingly asked to share the burden, the risk of hardship will likely increase.

People without health insurance are hit the hardest, but so are younger adults, ages 18 to 64.

The more people are asked to pay out of pocket, the more likely they are to choose putting food on the table over paying for health care, which means they’re missing out on preventative medicine and important screening tests and are at higher risk of chronic illness and disability down the road. That will increase their hardship even more.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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