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Health insurance deductibles soar, leaving Americans with unaffordable bills - Los Angeles Times

Soaring health insurance deductibles have strained family budgets, saddled many with debt and driven millions to skip care. It's the result of a revolution that has transformed U.S. health insurance, shifting a growing share of costs to workers and their families.

A medical crisis has largely been ignored by the media and Congress for the past year or more during the turmoil of investigations and congressional polarization during non-productive investigations of self-interest groups in Congress



Soaring deductibles and medical bills are pushing millions of American families to the breaking point, fueling an affordability crisis that is pulling in middle-class households with health insurance as well as the poor and uninsured.

In the last 12 years, annual deductibles in job-based health plans have nearly quadrupled and now average more than $1,300.

Yet Americans’ savings are not keeping pace, data show. And more than four in 10 workers enrolled in a high-deductible plan report they don’t have enough savings to cover the deductible.

One in six Americans who get insurance through their jobs say they’ve had to make “difficult sacrifices” to pay for healthcare in the last year, including cutting back on food, moving in with friends or family, or taking extra jobs. And one in five says healthcare costs have eaten up all or most of their savings.  Those are among the key findings of a Times examination of job-based health insurance — the most common form of coverage for working-age Americans — which has undergone a rapid transformation, requiring patients to pay thousands of dollars out of their own pockets.

The conclusions are based in part on a nationwide poll conducted in partnership with the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, or KFF. Two Washington-based think tanks — the Health Care Cost Institute and the Employee Benefit Research Institute — provided supplemental analysis.

How the LA Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll was conducted »

The Times also interviewed doctors, business leaders, researchers and dozens of Americans with high-deductible coverage and reviewed scores of studies and surveys of health insurance in the U.S.

At a time when healthcare is poised to be a central issue in the 2020 presidential election, these sources provide a comprehensive look at changes that have profoundly reshaped insurance.

The explosion in cost-sharing is endangering patients’ health as millions, including those with serious illnesses, skip care, independent research, and the Times/KFF poll show.

The shift in costs has also driven growing numbers of Americans with health coverage to charities and crowd-funding sites like GoFundMe in order to defray costs.











Health insurance deductibles soar, leaving Americans with unaffordable bills - Los Angeles Times:

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