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The State of Health Care in America

There is no way to get around the fact it is an election year. News outlets and social media give us sound bites nearly every day about what political candidates are tweeting or what speakers are saying at the conventions.

In the mixed bag of national challenges is health care. Is the Affordable Care Act working? Should it be eliminated? How can we address rising medical and prescription drug costs? Is supplemental health insurance the best protection for high deductible health plans? And are high deductible health plan premiums going to get less expensive?

While the answers do not come easily, there are interesting and important statistics about the state of health care and supplemental health insurance (also known as accident and critical illness insurance) in the United States.

Health Care

According to the CDC, the percentage of people who failed to get medical attention in 2014 due to cost was 5.3% of those surveyed. This was down from 5.9% in 2013 and is significantly lower than 2010’s statistic of 6.9% of Americans forgoing medical treatment because of the expense.

However, a 2016 survey by the Physicians Foundation found that of the 1,511 individuals they surveyed, 62% are concerned about paying for their health care costs. Forty-eight percent of this group are not confident they can actually pay for their health care expenses, and 28% had skipped medical tests, treatments and physician follow-ups because of cost.

Hawaii is the healthiest state in the U.S., followed by Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire. On the bottom end, Lousiana is the least healthy, followed by Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia and Alabama.

For each person (per capita), the national health expenditure is $9,523 per year.

Health Insurance

Nearly 9 million people gained health insurance coverage between 2013 and 2014 due to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In 2014, 48% of those that remained uninsured said it was because of cost.

That means nearly 91% of Americans now have health insurance.

However, health care spending rose 11.7% between 2014 and 2015. The increase was driven by an increase in health insurance costs, which rose 18.6% during that time period.

The popularity of critical illness insurance is quickly rising. It’s experienced double-digit growth over the years. As more employers move to high deductible health plans, more employees are carrying the financial burden of paying for their health care costs out of their own pocket. That’s where critical illness insurance can help fund unexpected medical bills. One insurance agent refers to this type of insurance as, “life insurance for the living.”

Prescription Drugs

In the same Physicians Foundation study referred earlier, 27% of participants failed to fill prescriptions due to the rising cost of medication.

Thirty-three percent of Americans pay an average of $39 out of their own pockets for prescription drugs. Another 10% pay $100 or more.

Asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure medications saw the largest increase in costs during the course of one year. These medications rose more than 10% in cost.

The trend of rising costs stretches across all levels of health care, from treatment to insurance to prescription drugs. One of the ways to lower out of pocket spending is to sign up for programs like HealthValues, which offers free doctor consultations, discount imagery services and insurance to supplement high deductible health insurance. Find out what options you have to help curb rising medical costs.

HealthValues is an organization helping Christians become wiser with money, create collective buying power and advocate for smarter health care solutions.