More Americans With Health Insurance: More Americans with Medical Debt

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July 30, 2015 by Lisa Brammer

I recently read an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune entitled “More in Minnesota have health coverage but still can’t afford to be sick.” The article explained that since the implementation of Obamacare the number of Minnesotans with insurance has increased, yet the amount of medical debt continues to rise even though it was widely expected to decrease when the number of those insured went up.

Apparently, Minnesotans like the rest of us, are finding themselves somewhere between a rock and a hard place when picking their health insurance. In an effort to keep premium cost affordable (and I use that term loosely) more companies and individuals are selecting plans with higher deductibles, the more affordable the premium, the higher the deductible—some as high as $7,500 which must be paid out before insurance kicks in.

According to a 2014 report by the Commonwealth Fund, “The twin goals of health insurance are to enable affordable access to health care and to alleviate financial burdens when injured or sick.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but nowadays you only get one of those—if you choose to alleviate your financial burdens when sick or injured, your access to health care, that is, your premium costs will most certainly not be affordable and if you choose affordable premiums, you could end up paying up to $7500 before your insurance company will have to cough up any money at all.

It’s kind of easy to see why so many Americans are choosing the higher-deductible plans and why The Commonwealth Fund estimated the number of under-insured Americans in 2014 to be more than 31 million.

According to the Star Tribune article private sector employer health coverage almost always (95 percent) carry a deductible. That’s up from 52.8 percent in 2002.

Now, even though more Americans have insurance, they are responsible for a greater percentage of their bill which is why so many (44 percent, according to The Commonwealth Fund report) are avoiding needed medical care and why those that do seek medical care are accumulating more bad debt.

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