How High Is America’s Health Care Cost Burden?

By Sara R. Collins, Munira Gunja, Michelle M. Doty, Sophie Beutel
The Commonwealth Fund, November 20, 2015

Toplines

*  Health care costs are unaffordable for 25% of privately insured working-age people

*  53% of privately insured people with low incomes have unaffordable health care costs

Abstract

One-quarter of privately insured working-age adults have high health care cost burdens relative to their incomes in 2015, according to the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Affordability Index, a comprehensive measure of consumer health care costs. This figure, which is based on a nationally representative sample of people with private insurance who are mainly covered by employer plans, is statistically unchanged from 2014. When looking specifically at adults with low incomes, more than half have high cost burdens. In addition, when privately insured adults were asked how they rated their affordability, greater shares reported their premiums and deductible costs were difficult or impossible to afford than the Index would suggest. Health plan deductibles and copayments had negative effects on many people’s willingness to get needed health care or fill prescriptions. In addition, many consumers are confused about which services are free to them and which count toward their deductible.

Exhibit 4

How easy or difficult is it for you to afford your deductible?

<200% FPL:  51% very difficult or impossible, or somewhat difficult

200%-399% FPL:  51% very difficult or impossible, or somewhat difficult

>400% FPL:  32% very difficult or impossible, or somewhat difficult

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2015/nov/how-high-health-care-burden

This update using the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Affordability Index demonstrates that health care remains unaffordable for one-fourth of privately insured adults and for over half of privately insured adults with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL).

Of the several statistics in this report, one of the more telling is the percentage of people who find that their deductibles are unaffordable. Half of those with incomes below 400% FPL found their deductibles difficult to afford, but, perhaps more astonishingly, one-third of those with incomes above 400% FPL did as well ($46,680 for an individual or $95,400 for a family of four).

This is yet one more report that confirms that “Affordable Care Act” is a misnomer. Single payer please.