Once upon a time, a freshman U.S. Senator from Illinois decided that he was going to run for president, and something had to be done about the rising cost of health care in this country. In one of this campaign promises, he stated that he was going to work to reduce health care premiums up to $2,500 a year. Fortunately, Obamacare architect Johnathan Gruber, with the slip of the tongue, was able to remind people that there was no way (economically) that the government would be able to reduce insurance premium cost while passing the tax on to the same insurance companies. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen until AFTER the fact, as you can figure out which direction insurance premiums went.
But that’s okay, Obama didn’t really mean he was going to cut health insurance premiums. Rather, the health care law was supposed to make it easier for people to pay their medical bills. That is the overall purpose of the healthcare exchanges, after all. Unfortunately, advocates of these unintended consequences never realize that when you subsidize something, it becomes more expensive. At fact well know to the many Americans that are having trouble paying their medical bills, even with insurance.
According to a new Kaiser/New York Times survey, 20% of Americans have reported trouble paying their medical bills. Much worse among those without insurance, 53% of them reported trouble paying their medical bills. This, along with other factors (employer coverage, medicaid) brings the total percentage of people having trouble with medical bills up to 26%.
Naturally, you wouldn’t expect people with insurance to have still trouble with their medical bills. However, most people who had problems paying their medical bills while insured stated that their copays, deductibles or coinsurance was more than they could afford.
Among the ones who were insured and having payment issues, 75% of them had to cut back on spending for food, clothing and other basic household items. 63% of the insured had to use up either all or a portion of their savings while 42% had to work more hours at their existing job or take up an extra job.
More interesting, these are some of the significant changes, according to the survey, people have made to pay their medical bills, in their own words:
- “Apartment instead of house. Not getting groceries some weeks to get by.”
- “Charges for my insulin exceeded $1200 a month (3 times the amount of my house payment). I had to reduce the amount of insulin I took based on what I could afford; my health was negatively impacted as a result.”
- “Cold showers, can’t fix plumbing. Other need repairs have been patched as best as possible but not fixed.”
- “Medical Insurance/bills was the deciding factor in a job change. I gave up other benefits to choose a job that had the best medical coverage.”
- “Sold everything we could spare.”
- “Can’t take the kids anywhere. Wish I could do more for my kids.”
- “I need physical therapy after should repair but I couldn’t afford to finish it. I wish I could have.”
- “I am losing my house.”
- “I’ve cut back on just about everything for my family and the way we live.”
The new health care plan under the Affordable Care Act: Don’t Get Sick…
Although, it’s been stated that the federal subsidies are keeping insurance cost low. Without them, insurance cost can climb as high as 7.5% in states like Oklahoma and Mississippi. Not to mention, the government is expecting to have 10 million people with Marketplace coverage by the end of 2016. Without enough healthy people enrolling to subsidize the overall risk-poll of elderly (who utilize lots of healthcare services) and those without insurance, you can expect health care cost to rise further. However, that is a separate issue entirely.
Before, we’ve had an issue of people being denied health care coverage due to a preexisting condition. Now, we people who can’t afford healthcare even with adequate coverage. Then again, it never made sense to me how one could lower the cost of healthcare by just mandating (through federal law) there be more demand for it. So, it isn’t like we didn’t see this coming.
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