Last week USA Today published an excellent article about the problems with the new trend of really high-deductible health care plans:
It explains how the overarching goal of Obamacare to provide coverage for the sick and low income demographic has had a rather unfortunate (although not unforeseen) unintended consequence.
Physician Praveen Arla is witnessing a reversal of health care fortunes: Poor, long-uninsured patients are getting Medicaid through Obamacare and finally coming to his office for care. But middle-class workers are increasingly staying away.
“It’s flip-flopped,” says Arla, who helps his father run a family practice in Hillview, Ky. Patients with job-based plans, he says, will say: ” ‘My deductible is so high. I’m trying to come to the doctor as little as possible. … What is the minimum I can get done?’ They’re really worried about cost.”
The article says the average deductible for an individual has increased from $584 to $1,217 since 2006. However, on the health care exchanges, many of the more “affordable” bronze plans have deductibles of $6,000 for an individual and $12,000 for a family. My family’s deductible is $10,500.
Related post: More find health care unaffordable, are underinsured
My family definitely uses less health care because of our deductible. Luckily, as a nurse I know when it’s OK to skip a doctor’s visit. Other people might be putting off necessary care.
Health policy makers are aware of the problem, but as the article concludes:
“It’s a case of companies trying to offer workers health insurance and still generate profit,” said Eric Wright, a professor of sociology and public health at Georgia State University. “But whenever costs go up for the consumers across the board … it promotes a delay in care.”
But…he doesn’t see any major changes on the near horizon.
“I wish I could be optimistic, but I’m not sure,” he says. “There’s a lot of reason to be worried about the future.”