Empty Your Pockets

You may have to dig a little deeper to pay for medical treatments – even if you have top notch health insurance. That’s from a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that suggests patients are now shouldering a bigger chunk of their health care costs.

From NBC News.com:

Even people with health insurance pay, on average, more than $1,000 out of their pockets for a hospital stay.

These are not from surprise medical bills for expenses insurance refuses to cover, but rather from the co-pays and deductibles that insurance plans increasingly require, the team at the University of Michigan found.

The study looked at how much people with employer-sponsored or individual insurance plans spent on hospital stays between 2009 and 2013. According to the Washington Post, “Between 2009 and 2013, overall health-care spending grew at 2.9 percent per year, while the amount shouldered by insured patients when they were hospitalized grew more than twice as fast. Patients’ out-of-pocket portion of their hospitalization costs rose 6.5 percent each year, from $738 on average in 2009 to more than $1,000 in 2013. To put that in perspective, consider the findings of a recent Federal Reserve survey, which found nearly half of Americans do not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.

The study’s lead author, Emily R. Adrion of the University of Michigan Medical School, told Reuters that even people with high quality health insurance plans were spending a lot out-of-pocket for hospitalization in 2013.

“These people have pretty good health insurance and we wanted to see how much they’d been spending in out of pocket costs,” Adrion said, “insurance provides a lot of protection, but maybe not quite as much as you might think.”

Fortune Magazine added, “The reason for the increased spending was driven primarily by the increase in the amount applied to deductibles, which rose by 86%, according to the study. Coinsurance also increased by 33% during the study period.”

According to a New York Times blog, “In 2015, the study’s authors note, the average deductible for individual coverage under an employer-sponsored plan was more than $1,300. For plans on the health care exchanges (which began after the study concluded), deductibles can be significantly higher— the median deductible last November was $4,000 in Phoenix and $5,000 in Miami, according to HealthCare.gov.”

Do the results of this study surprise you? Let us know what you think about the report and how, you believe, it may affect people here in Arizona. Working together to find innovative solutions to the complex health issues we face is a key piece of our long-term goal to one day make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!






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