Pension & Benefits News Health care costs causing stress this enrollment season, study finds
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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Health care costs causing stress this enrollment season, study finds

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults identify health care costs as a significant source of stress. One in five (17%) adults cannot afford health insurance co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses, including prescription drugs, according to a recent study, Stressed Out: Americans and Healthcare, by nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies® (TCHS). These alarming findings come to light as people across the country prepare for open enrollment, whether through employer-based health insurance, individual insurance, or health insurance Exchanges.

“Health insurance is the means to receive quality healthcare. Our survey findings underscore that the most pressing issues in healthcare today are affordability and access," said Hector De La Torre, Executive Director of TCHS.

As part of its Sixth Annual Healthcare Survey, TCHS surveyed 3,604 adults ages 18-64 to understand the current state of health care in the United States. The survey was conducted online by the Harris Poll in August 2018. The survey findings identify ways in which the current system is out of sync with the needs of U.S. consumers. Key findings include:

  • Consumers experience rising healthcare costs but aren’t preparing for additional costs. One in three U.S. adults indicate they have seen an increase in health insurance premiums (35 percent) and out-of-pocket expenses (31 percent). Forty-eight percent of adults said they received an unexpected or surprise medical bill they thought would be covered by insurance. Amid rising costs, relatively few (31 percent) report saving for healthcare expenses.
  • Out-of-pocket costs compromise financial security. Sixty-nine percent of US adults are paying for significant healthcare expenses through a variety of means, including savings (35 percent), credit cards (28 percent), disposable income (24 percent), loans from family (8 percent), or a 401k withdrawal (6 percent). Only 27 percent indicate they do not have significant healthcare expenses.
  • Cost leads to lack of insurance. Over three in five (61 percent) of the uninsured say obtaining health insurance is too expensive and they cannot afford it.
  • Pre-existing conditions are a concern for many. The most often cited “biggest fear” among U.S. adults (35 percent) regarding health policy/law is losing their healthcare insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Overall, 62 percent report having a chronic illness.
  • Consumers favor the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and specific provisions of healthcare policy. Forty-one percent have a positive view of the ACA and 30 percent have a negative view. However, 56 percent do not believe the government should require (mandate) healthcare coverage. The top three inclusions U.S. adults would like to see in healthcare policy include pre-existing condition coverage (45 percent), annual out-of-pocket limits (35 percent), and expansion of Medicare for seniors (34 percent). Amid reports of high prescription drug costs, 79 percent feel pharmaceutical companies are responsible.
  • There are noticeable disparities in health insurance coverage. Latinos (69 percent) are the groups least able to afford health insurance and are by far the most uninsured (26 percent).

“By doing their homework now, Americans may avoid unexpected out-of-pocket medical costs later,” said De La Torre. “It can really pay off to take extra steps to both protect your health and fully understand your insurance coverage, which is especially important for those with pre-existing conditions.”

SOURCE: www. transamericacenterforhealthstudies.org

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