BETHESDA, Md. (10/6/15)--The out-of-pocket costs Americans are paying for health insurance are surging, according to the results of a widely followed study.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey of employers found that deductibles--the amount someone pays for health care before insurance kicks in--have risen 67% since 2010 (Sept. 28 Health Affairs). That cost is on top of the employee’s share of the premium, the amount the insurance company charges for the health plan.
Employees will pay $1,071 for individual coverage and $4,955 for family coverage in premiums this year, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s coverage of the survey. Premiums have risen modestly, according to the survey, but the cost is being shifted to workers in the form of higher deductibles.
Deductibles used to be less common. In 2006, 55% of insured workers had a deductible as part of their health plan. Now that number is 81%. And the average deductible has risen from $542 per person in 2006 to $1,318 this year--meaning the average person has to pay for $1,318 in medical bills before insurance will cover anything.
If you’re enrolling in a health plan this fall, here are some points to consider:
If you still end up with a medical bill you can’t afford, first make sure there wasn’t a billing error, and you weren’t accidentally charged an out-of-network rate. Then contact your provider and see if there is a payment plan available, or if you qualify for any financial aid or discounts.
Also, consult with your credit union if you find money is suddenly tight. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions are happy to help you get a handle on your finances.
For related information, read “Benefits of Health Savings Accounts” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.