In fact, the mere specter of medical bills can also produce "healthcare avoidance" in employees - which can ultimately result in more serious health conditions and potentially life-threatening delays in treatment. A recent HealthPocket survey suggests that 51% of respondents avoided medical care and 78% were afraid to go to the hospital.
In some cases, care-avoidance can have dire consequences. For example, a 2019 study conducted by Harvard Medical School looked at the impact of high-deductible health plans on breast cancer treatment and diagnosis. The study found that low-income women enrolled in high-deductible plans skip care frequently, leading to potentially life-threatening delays in initial breast imaging screening (an average delay of 1.6 months), initial biopsy (2.7 months), diagnosis (6.6 months), and first chemo treatment (nine months).