Texans’ Experiences with Health Care Affordability and Access
Texas is a state with a diverse population and is home to the largest number of uninsured residents among U.S. states. In a new survey, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation sought to gauge Texans’ views on health policy priorities, as well as their own experiences in the health care system. This brief, the second based on the survey, examines Texas residents’ experiences with health care affordability and access to care.
The survey finds that health care affordability is a major concern for many Texans. Over half of Texas residents say it is difficult for their family to afford health care, higher than the shares that say the same about housing, utilities, transportation, or food. About four in ten say they’ve had problems paying medical bills in the past year, and roughly six in ten say someone in their household has postponed or skipped some sort of medical care in the past year because of the cost; both of these shares are higher than the shares measured nationally in Kaiser Family Foundation tracking polls.
Problems with health care affordability are much more commonly reported among Texans with lower incomes, those with health problems, and the uninsured. Cost is a barrier to getting insurance, too; among the uninsured, the most commonly reported reason for not having insurance is not being able to afford the cost. However, insurance does not offer ironclad protection against health care affordability problems. Even among those with insurance, many Texans report problems paying medical bills or skipping or delaying care because of the cost.
While most adults in Texas report having a place to go when they are sick or need advice about their health, about a quarter say they either have no usual place for care or that they rely on a hospital emergency room. The share without a usual place for care beyond the ER is higher among lower-income Texans and Black and Hispanic residents, and rises to about half among the non-elderly uninsured. Even for those with a usual place for care, difficulty traveling to this place is a problem for some Texans, particularly those with lower incomes, those with Medicaid coverage, and individuals who report being in fair or poor health.