People Have to Like This Crap: The Healthcare Deductible Edition

As always, it’s worth noting this was not only predictable, but predicted (boldface mine):

Although more Americans have health insurance coverage, 25 percent of non-elderly Americans don’t have enough liquid assets to cover the deductible on their health insurance plan, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The report finds that many consumers don’t have the cash on hand to cover the cost of a mid-range deductible or $1,200 for an individual or $2,400 per family. High deductible health plans require that consumers cover their health care costs out of pocket until they’ve met their deductible.

The goal of such plans is to keep costs down by encouraging consumers to consider the costs and benefits of health care before purchasing it. “It’s really up to the consumer with these plans to comparison shop and look for cost savings when making medical decisions,’ says Kevin Coleman of

For consumers, that means negotiating for any non-emergency services and evaluating medical bills for potential errors. “The big challenge is when it’s about you or someone you love, you lack objectivity, which means you lack leverage,” says Sarah O’Leary, CEO of patient advocacy company Exhale Health.

High-deductible plans, especially those paired with a funded health savings account may be a good alternative for those that are healthy or have the financial means to cover the costs of a medical emergency. However, the KFF report finds that as deductibles creep beyond the scope of savings, consumers are likely to either put off care or rack up medical debt.

So it works great if you don’t get sick or you are wealthy enough to not really need insurance.

I realize that, for too many people, partially unaffordable health insurance is better than nothing. And between the New Democrats/Blue Dogs in the 2009-10 Senate and the Republican scorched earth policy, maybe this was the best that could have been done. But for a lot of people, this didn’t make their lives dramatically better–the treatment they need is still unaffordable.

If Democrats and progressives are wondering why more people aren’t thrilled by the ACA, this might have something to do with it.

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2 Responses to People Have to Like This Crap: The Healthcare Deductible Edition

  1. vickie feminist says:

    Thanks. The high deductible issue gets way too little coverage.

  2. kaleberg says:

    On the other hand, I know a number of people for whom health care went from unaffordable to affordable. One had congestive heart failure. She had tried to get health care two years back, but she wasn’t poor enough for Medicaid so she was more or less told to live with it. Then the health exchanges kicked in. They put her on steroids and got her asthma medicine and she responded wonderfully. She’s in much better shape now, even with the deductibles. I know a couple of other people living closer to the edge in terms of access to medical care, and they are now managing things better, but didn’t have quite as dramatic a turnaround.

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