Which Health Costs Are the Greatest Burden?

Drew Altman: “In our August polling, we asked which health costs people with health coverage find to be the greatest burden. As the chart below shows, deductibles led a closely bunched list, followed by premium payments, drug costs and doctor visits. Deductibles have been rising steadily each year, especially for people who work for smaller employers, as insurance has gradually been moving from more to less comprehensive, with more ‘skin in the game’ for consumers.

“Drug spending represents just 10% of overall health spending.  But the number of transactions people have with the health system is much larger for drugs than for physician visits or hospital stays or other services — and the cost is very immediate and tangible. Concern about drug prices is best understood as the tip of the iceberg of a larger concern consumers have about out-of-pocket costs.  It’s an example of a basic rule of health policy: Experts think more about national and government spending for health while people focus more on health care as a pocketbook issue.”

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  • pisher

    I went to see a dermatologist at Columbia Presbyterian recently–it’s a large clinic at one of the nation’s best hospitals. The receptionist (one of several) looked at my insurance information, and saw that I had a co-pay of two dollars. She said she wished she worked for my employer–she’s a union employee, she works for a huge obscenely profitable organization with enormous real estate holdings (someday you’ll drive over the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan and see a sign saying “Welcome to Columbia-town”), and her co-pay is 48 dollars. Every single time she goes to a doctor. Maybe they take less out of her check for the plan–I sure hope so.

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