Financial Burden of Health Care Costs Among Insured: Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: August 2015
By Bianca DiJulio, Jamie Firth, and Mollyann Brodie
Kaiser Family Foundation, August 20, 2013
Among insured: Thinking about your own health care costs, which of the following do you find to be the greatest financial burden?
17% The deductible you pay before insurance kicks in
14% Your health insurance premiums
11% Your prescription drugs
7% Your doctor visits
3% Some other health care cost
44% Paying for health care and health insurance is not a financial burden
(Note: “All equally” and “Don’t know/Refused” responses not shown)
By Don McCanne, MD
It is nice to know that health insurance and paying for health care do not create a financial burden for 44% of those who are insured. The system is working well for the almost half of the insured who have decent incomes who remain in good health. But what about the other half?
Being insured is no assurance that you will not face significant financial burdens. The most common are high deductibles, high insurance premiums, high costs of prescription drugs, and, to some extent, physician fees. But shouldn’t the health care financing system be designed to remove financial burdens whenever people need health care? Our system is not working well for patients who have modest incomes and current significant health care needs.
Under a single payer system, there is no need for deductibles to save money by discouraging the use of beneficial health care services, because spending is controlled though other less intrusive, more patient-friendly economic measures. Physician fees are negotiated and paid by the single payer administrator, and prescription drug spending is controlled through negotiation and bulk purchasing. Insurance premiums are eliminated and replaced with equitable, progressive taxes that place a burden on no one. Instead of deliberately building financial barriers into the system, shouldn’t we eliminate them?