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Up to $49B unpaid by uninsured for hospitalizations

USA Today, May 11, 2011

Uninsured Americans -- including those with incomes well above the poverty line -- leave hospitals with unpaid tabs of up to $49 billion a year, according to a government study. On average, uninsured families can pay only about 12% of their hospital bills in full. Families with incomes above 400% of the poverty level, or about $88,000 a year for a family of four, pay about 37% of their hospital bills in full, according to the Department of Health and Human Services study. "This report shows that even higher-income, uninsured families are struggling to meet the high costs of healthcare," Sherry Glied, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at Health and Human Services, said in a statement. "No family should bear the burden of being one illness or accident away from bankruptcy." Researchers also found that most uninsured people have "virtually no" savings and that about a third have no financial assets.