When it comes to paying for healthcare, Sophie’s Choice becomes Everyman’s Choice. Would you rather feed your family or get that questionable mole biopsied? These are the types of questions otherwise well-adjusted families are forced to make on a regular basis. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report revealed that the state of healthcare affordability is dismal for the majority of consumers, even those aided by Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance (ESI).
ESI provides cost-assistance to employees and their families by paying for a large portion of their workers’ insurance premiums – but given the state of healthcare as it is today, this coverage is doing little to save people’s finances. 40% of adults with ESI report problems paying their medical bills, premiums, deductible, co-pays, and those little surprise bills that come as a result of unplanned illness or injury. According to the report, this leaves about 17% of all adults with employer-sponsored insurance stuck between a rock and a hard place, forcing them to sacrifice other basic needs such as food and clothing in order to cover the cost.
Beyond these material sacrifices, people have resorted to giving up time with their families to afford their healthcare services through taking on second jobs or accepting jobs that take them away from their families for higher compensation. The KFF survey names unexpected medical bills (23%) and steep deductibles (31%) are the biggest financial burdens for their sampled population, with prescription costs (11%) and co-pays (10%) falling behind. KFF’s report was designed to represent about a quarter of all ESI-holding adults, which means this study packs quite a gut-punch of reality for consumers.
If this isn’t alarming enough, the report offers a few more details on the state of healthcare affordability that do little to quell these rising anxieties. One in five people report having been pursued by collection agencies in the past year for medical bills, and 9% have been forced to declare personal bankruptcy due to their own or a family member’s medical bills. The rising tide of troubles that follow a capitalistic-healthcare industry has led to an increase in the use of potentially harmful home remedies for illnesses, and an increase in patients who postpone needed care, tests, treatments, and more just to pinch a penny.
Employer-sponsored insurance, designed to assist workers, is clearly lagging – but in this landscape, how many better choices are there?