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Report: Out-of-pocket costs too high


The trend toward greater consumer cost-sharing, through higher deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, is prompting many Americans to skip preventive tests and seek care, while also leaving them with burdensome bills, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund.

The survey, which examined 19-to-64-year-old adults who had insurance for a full 12 months, found that three in five adults with low incomes and half of those with moderate incomes say that their deductibles are difficult or impossible to afford.

More than one in five adults who were insured all year spent 5 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs, not including premiums, and 13 percent spent 10 percent or more.

Two of five adults who had deductibles that were high relative to their income said they did not go to a doctor when they were sick, and nearly one-quarter of people with high deductibles cited them as the reason they had not undergone a preventive care test, according to the results. 

What's more, doctors and hospitals continue to charge consumers and their health insurance companies "hidden fees," as FierceHealthPayer has reported previously.

Then there's the story of the Wisconsin woman suffering from a heat attack taken to a local hospital that saved her life. She was left with massive bills totaling $300,000, though some of it has been written off, because it was not in her insurance network, as CBS News reports. The ambulance took her to the nearest hospital, as state law requires, though an in-network hospital was just three blocks away.

To learn more:
- find the report (.pdf)
- here's the CBS News story

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