Cumulative out-of-pocket expenses for the treatment of chronic heart disease led to significant financial burdens for low-income families, even for those with health insurance, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2018, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in quality of care and outcomes research in cardiovascular disease and stroke for researchers, healthcare professionals and policymakers.
The study focused on the effect of out-of-pocket health expenses for treating atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease on low-income families, defined as those with an income below 200 percent of the federal poverty limit. During the study period (2006-2015), that ranged from $20,000 to $24,250 per year for a family of four.
Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is a group of conditions caused by atherosclerosis — a build-up of plaque that can harden and narrow the arteries and consequently result in a heart attack, stroke or death. It’s the leading cause of death, a major cause of disability and a major source of healthcare costs. The researchers defined high and catastrophic health expenses as out-of-pocket expenses of more than 20 percent and more than 40 percent of family income, respectively.