Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Americans Shoulder the Burden of Growing Health Care Costs

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2009

Americans pay more for health care each year but get less coverage and fewer services for the premiums they pay. Health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages,1 yet rising premiums are only one of the ways families shoulder the burden of rising health care costs.

With each passing year, families face increasing deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket expenses, requiring them to make difficult decisions in order to make ends meet. In fact, one recent survey estimated that 72 million, or 41 percent, of nonelderly adults have accumulated medical debt or had difficulty paying medical bills in the past year. A full 61 percent of those with difficulty had insurance.2

While rising out-of-pocket costs affect all Americans, there are some families and individuals for whom exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses lead to crippling financial burdens, precipitating medical debt or the avoidance of necessary medical care. Health insurance reform legislation would seek to protect these Americans, by limiting the amount that people with insurance have to pay out of their own pocket for health care.

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