Employee Benefits

3 Ways Americans Cope With Health Care Costs

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As health care costs continue to rise, many Americans are reviewing their needs and budgets to determine the best way to respond.

Forbes identified three decisions people are making:

  1. Low premiums – When evaluating health care benefits, Americans are selecting plans with the lowest premiums. However, plans with low monthly premiums may feature a limited network of physicians and fewer coverage options. These plans also can require plan members to pay more out-of-pocket for services. The Commonwealth Fund reports that 23 percent of insured Americans between ages 19 and 64 are underinsured.Unaffordable premiums may cause Americans to not enroll in a health care plan, leaving them vulnerable to a tax penalty. Even with plans available through HealthCare.gov, communication and confusion about required applicant information and rates can render some coverage invalid.
  2. High-deductibles – Plans with low premiums can feature high deductibles of $1,000 or more. This cost generally is high in comparison to people’s income. According to a study by The Commonwealth Fund, 40 percent of people with high-deductible health plans (relative to their income) reduced expenses by:
  • Not going to the doctor when sick
  • Not scheduling doctor-recommended follow-up tests
  • Not setting up appointments with specialists when necessary

These individuals also did not schedule preventive screenings and tests, even though many are covered at little or no cost to the member.

Health care experts say that high-deductible plans are becoming a popular choice for employers. Some are considering offering only plans with higher deductibles in the future.

  1. Specialty drugs – Costs for these drugs are exceeding many people’s incomes. Instead of going into debt, patients may decide not to take medicine prescribed, or skip doses to make it last longer. They are interested in less expensive options, but sometimes the alternatives may not provide the type of medication or dosage strength needed.

 

Source:
The New York Times

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