Poor health plan for middle class?
An interesting NYT article today “Slower Growth of Health Costs Eases U.S. Deficit” describes the good news that actual spending has been reduced by 15% or $200 Billion than projected 3 years ago. New data also show overall health care spending growth continuing at the lowest rate in decades for a fourth consecutive year.
Its any ones guess to the exact cause of this good news I will venture to say a good part of is the severe escalating out of pocket costs. With average office copays $50 and $200 for ER and many replacing these plans with high deductibles is it any wonder there is lower utilization? One might argue are poor health plans the cause for middle class leading to lower usage? To get an updated picture of todays NY Small Business rates once can get instant quote on our site and implement strategies in “How to Reduce My Health Care Costs“. In some instances people are turning to self insured Health Savings Accounts carrying deductibles as high as $5000 Individual and $10,000 Family.
In 2014 Individual Health Exchanges will offer a subsidized rate for lower income. For example, a $25,000 Individual filer would get approximate 80% subsidized rate and pay approx. $100/month. However salaries are not geo-sensitive and the average NY Middle Class Household will not see this subsidy. There are a number of questions outstanding such as the quality of the network. Also some Governors such as Christy Has Rejected Exchange is capable of running this Exchange version.
On the higher end according to CBO “tax expenditures disproportionately benefit the most well-off. As Figure 2 shows, the most affluent 20 percent of Americans receive 66 percent of all tax expenditure benefits (the richest 1 percent alone getting 24 percent of the benefits), while the middle 60 percent of households received just 31 percent of the benefits. In contrast, the middle 60 percent of households receive a proportionate share (58 percent) of the benefits of entitlement programs on the spending side of the budget (see Figure 3). The poorest fifth of households receive 32 percent of these benefits.”
But the greatest looming concern are costs. is behavior changing? Are people initiating preventive care more readily? Are they enrolled in wellness programs, managing chronic conditions, seeking Urgent Care vs. ER, using generics vs brands? Is technology playing a greater role such as mobile devices in managing care? Are modern medicine efficiencies such as avoiding testing redundancies and EMR helping?
No one argues that medical costs are a drag on the economy and are directly linked to our prosperity. “Slower cost growth would have ramifications far beyond the deficit. According to calculations by White House economists, slowing the annual growth rate of health care costs by 1.5 percentage points might increase economic output by 2 percent in 2020 and 8 percent in 2030. It might also lead to higher wages for workers and more room for productive investments in the budget.”
The hope is medical care is becoming more efficient. Whether or not the rate is subsidized it is still being paid for by someone. With this new finding it does offer hope but unless there are added incentives such a preventive medications under an Health Savings Account card covered without a deductible the concerns are Middle Class families will be reluctant to access care and we all end up paying for this.