Millions of Americans
now have health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act, but at the same time
due to the increase of High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP), health care is no longer
Under HDHP's the patients
have to take care of a large portion of their own healthcare expenses, the
Internal Revenue Service classifies a plan as HDHP when the deductible is $
1,300 or more for an individual and for a family $2,600. Some plans available
through exchanges have very high deductibles even higher than the 'Bronze' plan
where a person spends at least $ 3,600 before the benefits are available.
According to a report by
the Associated Press - NORC Center for Public Affairs Research - 1 in 8
Americans had to forgo essentials like food or finish their savings when they
are trapped by HDHP's. It was found that 23% with HDHP's skipped a medical test
or treatment and 29% did not bother to see a doctor.
The alleged intent of
forcing so many costs onto patients is to make them better consumers of
healthcare. Instead, studies have shown that those on the plans simply avoid
getting non-preventative care, especially for their children. The American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) is so concerned
that it recommends that HDHPs be sold only to adults.
"HDHPs discourage use of
no preventive primary care and thus are at odds with most recommendations for
improving the organization of health care, which focus on strengthening primary
care," AAP said in a statement, according to Covering Health.
In all plans it is
necessary to have preventive care with annual health checks and if there is a
problem the clock starts ticking. According to a report 13% Americans have
deductibles of more than 10% of their annual income. Those in lower income
brackets are hit especially hard.
"The results of this survey show that these trends
toward greater cost-sharing, combined with little or no growth in median family
income, have left many working Americans in the middle and lower end of the
income distribution with large healthcare cost burdens," the report's authors
wrote. "Cost-sharing in health plans is affecting people's medical decisions in
ways that should be of concern to policymakers and the medical community."
Reference: Steve Straehley