Health Care Act

High deductibles leave many healthy, wealthy ... and worried

Many worry about covering the cost of a medical emergency (Observer file photo).
Many worry about covering the cost of a medical emergency (Observer file photo).

Originally published Jan. 26, 2015.

Even people with health insurance who call themselves financially secure worry that they can’t cover their out-of-pocket costs if a medical emergency strikes, a new survey from eHealth shows.

Two-thirds of 1,000 insured adults polled by Wakefield Research described themselves as financially secure, yet half of that group said they would struggle to meet their deductible in case of an expensive crisis. The trend was even more pronounced among adults ages 25 to 39, who described themselves as wealthier, healthier and more optimistic about their finances than older counterparts.But 69 percent of the young adults doubted they could afford their deductibles. Confidence about out-of-pocket costs was highest among those 55 and older.

Out-of-pocket costs are rising as employers and people who buy their own insurance try to rein in premiums. eHealth’s price index shows what many others have reported: People are trending toward plans with higher deductibles this year.

eHealth, an online insurance exchange, launched its Coverage Satisfaction Index to track consumer opinions about coverage, health and finances (read an overview of the December poll here). The sampling was designed to be representative of the nation, though the South accounted for 37 percent of those polled (compared with 20 to 22 percent for the other three zones). About 35 percent reported income of at least $75,000, with the rest evenly divided between those in the $35,000 to $74,999 bracket and those earning less.

Some of the results:

▪ Eighty-six percent described themselves as at least somewhat satisfied with the value of their current health plan, with 40 percent saying they are very satisfied.The poll found no difference among those who bought their own coverage and those who got it from an employer, but those with such government-funded plans as Medicare, Medicaid and military insurance topped 90 percent satisfaction.

▪ One-third of men and 38 percent of women said they’ve skipped medical procedures, such as exams and immunizations, to save money.

▪ Opinions are split on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on their health benefits, with 32 percent saying it’s positive, 28 percent negative and 40 percent saying there’s no effect. Those under age 40 were most supportive of the ACA, with 45 percent citing a positive impact.

▪ When asked to name their top three financial fears, “an expensive medical emergency” topped the list – though that may be no surprise, coming after a long list of questions about the costs of care. Asked whether they spent more time thinking about the cost of their health insurance or their cable package, 63 percent said insurance and 37 percent said cable.