Health care has become increasingly expensive throughout the US over the last several years with some economists estimating that many households spent at least 6% of their adjusted gross income on health insurance, copays, deductibles, and items not reimbursed by insurance. The rising costs of family health insurance mean that 50 million people do not have insurance while as many as 25 million are considered “underinsured”. Underinsured means that their policy only paid 10% or less of their medical bills, but this term is hard to define in any concrete terms since it can vary so much depending on each individual situation. Middle to upper income families are one of the quickest growing areas of the underinsured population with rates tripling in 2007 to 11% for those with incomes of $40,000 or more.
The typical health insurance plan for a family of four cost $12,298 a year in 2008 and trends show that more and more of the burden of these plans are being passed from the employer to the worker. These numbers continue to rise on an annual basis and the recent economic crisis has left many families struggling to provide food for their families, forget being able to afford an expensive insurance policy. As the health care debate continues to rage in Washington, the implications for families across America are alarming.
Health care premiums have risen about 91 percent from 2000-2007 while income levels only increased about 24 % throughout the same time period. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll revealed that about 28% of middle income American families (income levels between $30,00 – 75,000) were struggling to pay their health care or health insurance premiums. The shocking fact is that those statistics are for those lucky ones who already do have health care. The scenario is much grimmer for families who are uninsured, whether because they belong to a high risk pool for which it is almost impossible to find an affordable policy or because health insurance is beyond their family’s current means. The uninsured and underinsured behave similarly in that they are likely to forgo preventative care, stop refilling prescriptions that are not absolutely necessary, and skip visits to the eye doctor or the dentist. All of these measures can be ultimately expensive, studies have repeatedly shown that preventative care is much more cost-effective than urgent or emergency room care.
Families who have a member who is truly ill or who has been diagnosed with any type of condition, whether it is ADHD or autism or epilepsy, often find themselves tagged with the pre-existing condition label. This means that unless they are in a group policy, finding a policy that will cover their family member can be almost impossible. When they realize that they are likely to have to pay a significant portion of their family member’s health care costs out of their own pocket, it can jeopardize their economic security. Medical insurance costs in 2008 accounted for up to 50% of the nation’s bankruptcies and without some healthcare intervention, this number is expected to rise. For more health care issues visit: Healthozo.com