2024 Benefits Guide: Eliminating Medical Debt for Your Employees

COLLINSVILLE, Conn., Feb. 27, 2024 — A new survey commissioned by Goodroot found that 43% of people with commercial insurance through their employer have experienced medical debt, with one quarter reporting that they currently owe money. The finding is part of a detailed guide for employers, brokers and third-party administrators (TPAs) called No More Medical Debt: Leveraging Care Navigation & Hospital Financial Assistance to Craft Affordable Benefits. 

Goodroot, a community of companies reinventing healthcare one system at a time, commissioned the representative survey of 2,000 Americans to better understand the state of medical debt and awareness of hospital financial assistance programs.  

Medical debt remains the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States and over half (52%) of those employees surveyed who currently carry medical debt reported owing more than $2,500. Forty-five percent of employees said medical debt has impacted their ability to cover daily living expenses and the vast majority of employees who have experienced medical debt — 92% — have skipped at least some medical care to avoid costs. 

“Providing quality healthcare benefits — and ensuring the physical and financial health of employees — is an essential responsibility of employers,” says Goodroot CEO Mike Waterbury. “But health benefits are increasingly expensive, resulting in benefit cuts that decrease coverage or shift more of the cost burden to employees, leaving them at greater risk for medical debt following a large hospital bill or other expense.” 

Hospital financial assistance programs offer free or discounted care to eligible patients. In some areas, a family of four making up to $180,000 qualifies for discounted care. But Goodroot’s survey found that employers underutilize these programs, with 53% of employees from households earning under $100,000 per year unaware of their existence. 

“When employees are struggling with a massive, unpayable medical bill, it not only puts tremendous stress on their family, but also harms their ability to be productive and contribute to company culture,” says Waterbury. “Employers can’t assume that their team will find and apply for these programs. That’s why we’re integrating hospital financial assistance eligibility into our employer-facing offerings such as Emry Health.” 

Emry Health is a health cost navigator employers provide in addition to healthcare benefits. Emry works directly with employees to understand their benefits, utilize them appropriately and make cost-effective healthcare choices with better care outcomes. Emry, which was recognized in the 2023 BenefitsPRO Luminaries Awards, supports companies across the US, including Goodroot itself. 

“In addition to building healthcare solutions, I’m also a business owner that spends over a million dollars each year on benefits for my employees,” says Waterbury. “A small additional cost to make sure the benefits work better is a great investment because I have a responsibility to help our employees avoid medical debt.” 

Goodroot’s survey also found that younger workers are 29% more likely to have experienced medical debt than older workers and their debts are larger. Of employees aged 42 or under with medical debt, 59% owe more than $2500, compared to just 45% of employees aged 43 or older. 

“One would assume that older workers, who may have more health issues, would have greater prevalence and amount of medical debt,” says Waterbury. “But our data shows that younger workers bear a greater burden on average. This is an issue that increasingly affects every workplace in the country, and we’re committed to ensuring that tools to combat medical debt are easy and effective for employers to put in place.” 

Click here to read the full version of No More Medical Debt: Leveraging Care Navigation & Hospital Financial Assistance to Craft Affordable Benefits. 

About Goodroot 

Goodroot is a community of companies reinventing healthcare one system at a time. With a shared mission of increasing affordability and access in healthcare, Goodroot provides business infrastructure to help visionary healthcare professionals launch their own companies to fix chronic problems in the system. Goodroot’s community companies — AlignRx, Breez, CoeoRx, Empara, Emry Health, Nuwae, Penstock, RemedyOne and Sola — offer innovative services and strategic guidance for healthcare stakeholders such as employers, brokers, PBMs, health plans, third-party administrators, pharmaceutical manufacturers and hospitals. Goodroot was named a 2024 Top Impact Company by Real Leaders. goodrootinc.com 

Learn how to leverage care navigation and financial assistance for crafting affordable benefits and eliminating medical debt burdens.


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