CNET: Heath care is too expensive

In a recent series called Priced out: coping with the high cost of living in America, CNET explored the high cost of healthcare and the role patients are playing in advocating for lower costs. In speaking with experts and patients, the article highlighted some of the challenges securing health insurance, the importance of understanding out-of-pocket medical expenses, and resources to help patients. According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, nearly 20 percent of all U.S. households carried medical debt in 2017, with those families struggling to afford housing being nearly three times more likely to carry high medical debt.

“We have an incredibly complex health care system,” said Amy Niles of the PAN Foundation, a nonprofit that helps underinsured patients in need. “And unfortunately, at the end of the day, a lot of the cost gets shifted onto the patients.”

The first step to selecting health insurance is reading the fine print and knowing all the details, according to Niles. “When looking for a plan, you want to understand the costs relating to that plan,” she said. That means knowing the deductible, the premiums, the coinsurance and the out-of-pocket maximum, as well as confirming that the plan will cover specific needs, such as your prescription medications.

Through its FundFinder, the PAN foundation also keeps track of charitable foundations that can help cover medical costs or offer other patient assistance.