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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rising Out-of-Pocket Health Costs

I looked over some medical statements recently and realized that even though my family had spent roughly $3,000 out of pocket for health care this year, we would still fail to meet our annual deductible.

We're not alone. Workers who get health insurance through their employers have seen the average deductible nearly double over the last six years, a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds.

In 2012, 72 percent of covered workers face a general annual deductible, up from 52 percent of workers in 2006, according to a deeper look at data from the Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey. Among workers who have an annual deductible, the average deductible for single coverage, across all types of plans, is $1,097 this year, up from $584 in 2006.

Those working at smaller companies - those with fewer than 200 workers - were more likely to have higher deductibles, the analysis found.

Now, I'm not necessarily compl aining - even though the $3,000 that was spent on health care is $3,000 that won't go into our retirement account, or into our children's college funds. We knowingly opted for a higher deductible to keep our monthly premiums lower. And we had savings to cover the costs that the our insurance plan didn't.

But what about families who are living paycheck to paycheck, and don't have backup savings?

Previous surveys have found that some families forgo needed care because of the higher costs.

“While many working families have sufficient savings and coverage in case of a medical emergency,” the analysis concluded, “the growth in workers' contributions and cost sharing may increasingly become a financial strain on some households.”

Have you noticed that you're paying more for health care? How are you managing higher deductibles?