Is there a connection between one's financial and medical health?
That is something an online private insurance company will explore by providing consumers with a combined financial and health score.
"Employees can get a personalized score to help them understand and assess their financial wellness, which is increasingly important to productivity at home and work," said ConnectedHealth President Joe Donlan in a statement. "Since more than 60 percent of bankruptcies in the United States are caused by medical bills, it's important that employees understand the connection between health and wealth."
"The connection between health and financial stress has long been studied, and employers are increasingly recognizing that concerns about health and financial security make their way into the workplace in the form of decreased productivity, absenteeism, and 'presenteeism,'" according to a white paper published by ConnectedHealth.
Many employers now believe that employees can better focus on their work if they aren't worried about insurance and having enough money to pay for their health needs. In a counter-move to shift more financial responsibility to employees, employers also now ofter health management and financial advisory programs to their employees.
The company also noted that such scoring is crucial for individuals and households, particularly as more insurance policies offer rising out-of-pocket costs in the form of co-payments and deductibles. The intent of the scoring is to help guide health insurance enrollees into plans that would be better matched to their overall financial situation.
Medical debt is by far the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported last year that 43 million Americans have medical debts they have yet to pay, and more than half of the debts that get referred to collection agencies are medical in nature.
Recently released data have suggested that the expansion of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act has not mitigated issues with paying medical bills. Sixty-four million Americans had trouble paying medical bills last year, according to the Commonwealth Fund. And among that population, nearly 60 percent had health insurance throughout the entire year.