A boy wearing glasses shocked by the cost of insurance
Employee Benefits

An Unintended Risk of High Healthcare Costs

Jeff Kirke
Jeff Kirke
Vice President, Employee Benefits

I read an article the other day titled ”As Out-Of-Pocket Health Costs Rise, Insured Adults Are Seeking Less Primary Care.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. How sad is it that we have some of the best doctors, nurses, and hospitals in the world, and yet, people aren’t seeking help when they need it?

As I read further into the article, here’s what it said:

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s behind this decline, the researchers say. But the evidence points toward rising out-of-pocket costs as a factor. The average out-of-pocket cost for a visit to the doctor related to a health problem rose from about $30 to nearly $40 during the study period. And the share of primary care visits subject to a deductible jumped, too: Less than 10% in 2008, versus more than 25% in 2016.

If you’ve been paying attention to our Holmes Murphy President Den Bishop’s blogs about issues voters should be in tune with when it comes to the upcoming election and healthcare, he mimics these same findings. The American healthcare system is failing those who need to access life-saving treatment.

In addition to all of the information Den provides weekly, I also found these alarming statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation/LA Times Survey Of Adults With Employer-Sponsored Insurance:

  • More Americans are insured than in the past; however more are enrolled in plans that often keep them from seeking care. It’s estimated that in 2018, 45 percent of working adults, or 87 million people, were either underinsured or had no coverage for at least part of the year. Among those with health insurance, 29 percent said they were underinsured.
  • Two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor to their financial downfall.
  • Four in ten adults with employer coverage say that in the past year they had problems paying medical bills or difficulty affording their premium, deductible, co-pays, or an unexpected medical bill for themselves or a family member. When this group is asked to say which has been the biggest problem for their family, medical bills they had to pay before meeting their deductible (31 percent), unexpected medical bills (23 percent), prescription drug costs (11 percent), medical visit co-pays (10 percent), and health insurance premiums (8 percent) all make the list.
  • Just over half (54 percent) of those with employer-sponsored coverage say that someone covered by their plan has a chronic condition such as hypertension, asthma, a serious mental health condition, or diabetes. The combination of a chronic condition and a high deductible leads to even higher rates of problems and worries. For example, three-quarters of those in the highest deductible plans who say someone in their family has a chronic condition say that a family member in their household has skipped or delayed some type of medical care or prescription drugs for cost reasons in the past year.

What Can We Do to Provide Affordable Healthcare to Employees?

First, we all need to get educated on the issues of the healthcare system. I’m sure by now you’ve heard a lot of talk about healthcare in the presidential debates. Unfortunately, what’s being said is terribly confusing for most. Den Bishop has done a great job of breaking down the topics in an easily digestible manner for everyone to understand. I encourage you to sign up to receive his blog, if you’re interested.

Holmes Murphy can also help with strategies to reduce health cost and improve quality through network configuration, in which enrollees face lower of pocket expenses if they receive care from a designated provider. It’s through a program called SimplePay Health. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about it.

We know healthcare is a hot topic, and we’re doing our best to keep everyone informed and educated.  Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out with questions. We are here to help!

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