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Health insurance deductibles continue to rise

Written by Diane Archer

A new Kaiser Peterson analysis shows that health insurance deductibles continue to rise. And, for many people, the consequence is that their health insurance does not provide coverage until later and later in the year. This year, the typical person will meet her deductible on May 19.

Today, the average deductible for job-based coverage is more than two and a half times what it was ten years ago. In 2009 it was $533. In 2018, it was $1,350. High deductibles benefit insurers. The higher the deductible charged, the longer before insurance companies have to begin paying for enrollees’ care.

Almost everyone with insurance now has to pay a deductible, and it is typically their largest out-of-pocket cost. More than eight in ten (85 percent) workers must meet a deductible before their coverage kicks in. Ten years ago, fewer than six in ten (59 percent) had to meet a deductible.

As a result, out-of-pocket health care costs have increased for people with employer-coverage. In 2017, these costs averaged $792. A decade earlier, they averaged $493.  Of those costs, $130 was for the deductible in 2007 and $411 was for the deductible in 2017.

What’s more concerning is that high deductibles are keeping some people from getting needed care. People report having trouble affording health care until they meet their deductibles. The higher the deductible, the more trouble people have paying their health care bills. In fact, more than half of people with high deductibles (53 percent) say their savings is lower than their deductibles.

High deductibles are simply a way for insurers to spend less on care. They discriminate against people with less money, rationing care based on ability to pay. Medicare for All would put an end to out of pockets health care costs and bring greater equity to our health care system.

In an extensive Google search, I could not find information on the average deductible in Medicare Advantage plans–commercial health plans that offer Medicare benefits–in 2018. But, I did find that some people in Medicare Advantage plans could be spending as much as $7,246 out of pocket for their annual premium, deductible and in-network copays, far more than if they were enrolled in traditional Medicare and bought supplemental coverage.

Here’s more from Just Care:

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