Are Medical Costs Taking a Toll?

Are Medical Costs Taking a Toll?

Yes, and a big one. Over 26% of people in a recent poll said that health care costs posed a significant financial burden on them and/or their family. Forty-two percent of the people said they have paid all or nearly all of their savings on medical costs, and 27% said they were unable to pay for basic necessities such as food, heating, or housing. Seven percent have also declared bankruptcy because of health care costs. This is an unnecessary burden that faces both the younger population on Obamacare and the older population and people with disabilities on Medicare. In fact, a recent National Public Radio article notes that while 89% of Americans now have health insurance through Obamacare and Medcare, simply having insurance is no longer enough. The consumer costs keep rising.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study done last year, more and more companies are also shifting rising health care costs to their employees. For example, the workers’ share of health insurance premiums for their families rose 83% from 2005 to 2015. The amount employees had to pay for deductibles for individual insurance also increased 255% from 2006 to 2015. These increases are much higher than growth in workers’ wages. And this example demonstrates what’s happening in all areas of health care coverage, with the sickest people being hurt the most.

For more information on the poll, see NPR’s recent article, Medical Bills Still Take a Big Toll, Even with Insurance.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.