Consumer Health Digest #19-24
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 16, 2019
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., with help from Stephen Barrett, M.D. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.
Medical cost hardship is common in the United States. Researchers have found that about 137 million adults experienced significant difficulty with medical costs. Their findings are based on National Health Interview survey of 68,828 people aged 18 to 64 years and 24,614 people aged 65 years and older. Medical financial hardships were more common among 18 to 64-year-olds, especially for those without health insurance. Hardships were found to be greater for those with Medicare only than those with private or public insurance in addition to Medicare. People with the least educational attainment tended to report the greatest hardships. [Yabroff KR and others. Prevalence and correlates of medical financial hardship. Journal of General Internal Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-019-05002-w]
High-deductible health insurance plans fare poorly in national survey. A national survey of adults with employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) has found:
- Most people with ESI are generally satisfied with their health plans.
- Four in ten report that their family has had either problems paying medical bills or difficulty affording premiums or out-of-pocket costs.
- About half say someone in their household skipped or postponed some type of medical care or prescription drugs in the past year because of the cost.
- Seventeen percent say they've had to make what they feel are difficult sacrifices in order to pay health care or insurance costs.
- The higher the deductible, the more likely people are to view their health plan negatively and experience problems affording or putting off care due to cost.
- Among those in the plans with the highest deductibles (at least $3,000 for an individual or $5,000 for a family), more than half say the amount of savings they could easily access in the short term is less than the amount of their deductible.
- Three-quarters of those in the highest deductible plans who say someone in their family has a chronic condition say that a family member in their household has skipped or delayed some type of medical care or prescription drugs for cost reasons in the past year.
- Seven in ten with employer coverage report engaging in some type of cost-conscious health care shopping behavior in the past 12 months.
- Two-thirds say it is difficult to find out how much medical treatments and procedures provided by different doctors and hospitals would cost them.
- Over four in ten say they have had difficulty understanding how much they will have to pay out of their own pocket when they use care.
[Hamel L and others. Kaiser Family Foundation/LA Times Survey of Adults with Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. May 2019]
This page was posted on June 15, 2019