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Survey: Out-of-pocket health care costs on the rise

July 18, 2017
As health care plan deductibles increase, so are the out-of-pocket expenses everyone, even Millennials, must pay.

Getting a handle on health care costs is becoming a greater struggle for employers and employees alike, especially in trucking, as out-of-pocket expenses are experiencing a jump due to rising health care deductible levels.

According to a new survey conducted by the Securian Financial Group, a provider of supplemental group insurance products, nearly four in 10 workers on employer-sponsored health plans are personally experiencing or know someone who is having financial difficulty due to medical bills. Notably, more than half (52%) of Millennials on a health plan through their employer are personally struggling or know someone who is struggling to pay medical bills.

While the survey – conducted online by KRC Research – revealed that paying for out-of-pocket medical expenses would be the top financial concern for a plurality (42%) of workers facing a debilitating injury, a critical illness diagnosis or a hospitalization, 58% said their top concern would be lost wages from work, the ability to pay for regular monthly expenses such as groceries, or the need to take on additional expenses such as lawn care or cleaning.

According to Securian’s poll of 1,010 U.S. adults aged 18 or older, some 28% of employees with health insurance through work facing an out-of-pocket expense of $5,000 or more would use their personal savings to pay rather than other means, including a Health Savings Account (8%) or supplemental group insurance (7%).

However, a majority of respondents said they do not know how they would pay (21%), or that they would need to rely on credit cards (12%), a loan from their 401k retirement plan (7%) or family/friends (4%), their tax return (5%), or by selling/pawning a personal possession (2%).

Surprisingly, 4% said they would not pay an out-of-pocket expense at all, Securian's poll found.

Other survey findings include:

  • Over the past year, Millennials (32%) on employer-sponsored health plans with deductibles are the most likely age group to have paid out-of-pocket expenses for an accidental injury like a broken bone or laceration when compared to Generation X (18%) and Baby Boomers (16%).
  • Among low-income Americans (household income of $35,000 or less) with health insurance through work, 55% report knowing someone or personally having financial difficulty due to medical bills.
  • Across all generations, 31% of workers with employer-sponsored health insurance report having paid or knowing a family member who has paid an unexpected out-of-pocket medical expense in the past five years due to a critical illness such as cancer, a heart attack or stroke.

“Employers recognize that health care costs have become burdensome to their workers and their families,” noted Terry Holloway, an employee benefits advisor and executive vice president with insurance broker Cobbs Allen, within Securian’s report on the survey. “It’s also important to remember that these cost increases have impacted employers’ bottom lines as well.”

About the Author

American Trucker staff

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