Between prescription medications, doctor visits, unexpected medical needs and all those confusing insurance terms (like, what the heck is a deductible?), it can be pretty hard to figure what you’re spending to stay healthy. But, according to BuzzFeed News, new data recently released from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) revealed what health care costs in 2018, and it’s not looking great for the average American millennial’s wallet.
According to Kaiser Family Foundation, the cost of health insurance has gone up for those who’ve been getting their health insurance through employer-sponsored plans. For individuals, the cost has increased 3 percent to $6,869 annually, Kaiser Family Foundation reports. Although individual workers only pay $1,186 of that $6,896 premium, says Kaiser Family Foundation, more and more employer-sponsored insurance plans have deductibles, and those deductibles continue to rise. In fact, around 85 percent of workers have a deductible in their employer-sponsored insurance plan compared to 59 percent 10 years ago, and the average deductible is now at around $1,579.
“Deductibles of $2,000 or more are increasingly common in employer plans, which means the bills can pile up quickly for workers who require significant medical care,” Gary Claxton, study lead author, KFF vice president, and director of the Health Care Marketplace Project, said in a news release.
A deductible is what you have to pay out-of-pocket before your insurance plan will cover any medical treatments, says HealthCare.gov. Most health insurance plans will cover preventive services at no cost, says HealthCare.gov, but check with your health insurance provider before you seek treatment to make sure whatever treatment you’re getting is covered. If your insurance plan includes a copay, that’s a fixed amount (typically around $20), you’ll typically pay that after you’ve met your deductible, says HealthCare.gov.
Luckily, says BuzzFeed, out-of-pocket caps that were implemented by the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act are still in place, but those caps are going to increase from $7,350 to $7,900 annually next year. What’s also making it so hard to keep up with the cost of health care, says BuzzFeed News, is that insurance rates are rising faster than American wages, making it harder and harder for millennials to keep their heads above financial waters.
But as much as you might want to blame your employer for these higher premiums, it’s not that simple. Remember, you’re only paying a portion of that $6,000 premium; your employer is paying the rest. So the increase in premiums is affecting your employer, too. So who or what is to blame for rising health care costs in the United States?
"A lot of things cost more than they would in the rest of the world,” Ben Isgur, leader of the Health Research Institute at PricewaterhouseCoopers US, told BuzzFeed News. “The income of doctors, what the hospitals make, what the insurers make. The whole ecosystem has a higher price here than in other parts. There's not a single villain in the story."
The U.S. health care system has gotten itself into a bit of a vicious cycle, says the Economic Policy Institute, in which all these health care costs are keeping us from putting money back into the rest of the economy. The Economic Policy Institute recommends policymakers stop trying to restrict health care use through implementing a single-payer system and focus on controlling health care prices, which the EPI says is really what’s getting out of control.
What experts are finding is that health care continues to cost more and more in the United States, and there’s no simple fix. It’s not something the average person can control, but it’s something you can plan for by being aware that health care costs continue to increase. By at least watching the state of health care costs, you’ll be able to prepare for potential medical emergencies.