The health care cost crisis has hit at least 1 in 2 American families, based on the latest Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll.

KFF found that 30% of Americans have had trouble paying medical bills in the past 12 months. Challenges paying for health care increase if you’re black, Hispanic, earning under $40,000 a year, or….in poor health.

There are two angles on dealing with the costs of health care dealt with in the KFF poll. First, looking to the government to regulate health costs:

  • 42% of Americans said the government doesn’t regulate the cost of health insurance enough
  • 40% called for more government regulation on prescription drug costs
  • 36% said the government should more heavily regulate hospital charges
  • 33% said doctors’ fees need greater government regulation.

A second aspect on Americans’ managing health care costs is health care self-rationing: nearly 6 in 10 Americans have delayed care due to cost. 40% of people in fair or poor health did not fill a prescription in the past year due to cost.

In addition to feeling cost-challenged, there’s another health care issue most Americans agree on: that’s believing the health policymaking process is broken. This is a shared opinion across political party: 67% of Democrats feel this way, as do 77% of Independents and Republicans.

With the absence of any health policy emerging out of Washington, DC, health reform is officially happening at home in the form of self-rationing of care in the form of fewer prescriptions filled, postponed visits to doctors and laboratories, and cutting pills in half.

The KFF poll also found that 18% Americans have been shfiting to less comprehensive health plans due to cost. For those people who are in poor or fair health, this will result in higher costs at the point of hospital and physician care. Providers should look at this as a precursor to potential increasing bad debt and plan accordingly. A modest forecast: patient bad debt will increase for providers in 2010 and for the foreseeable future without comprehensive health reform. Bankruptcy lawyers may see this as a growth opportunity. However, for most broke Americans, it’s no wonder most see Congressional policymaking as broken.