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Health care costs rose for a third of working Americans this year, according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute published Thursday.
These expenditures, according to the survey, resulted in some employees reducing their pension contributions, delaying doctor visits, increasing credit card debt, or using up all or most of their savings.
According to the survey, four out of ten respondents whose health care costs have increased have had difficulty paying bills or making a living. This share has increased from 29% in 2020.
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“It’s definitely worrying when people have to cut food and housing to pay for their health care,” said Paul Fronstin, director of the health research and education program at EBRI.
“They don’t want people with chronic illnesses to get to the point where they’ll stop taking their medication to control those illnesses,” he added. “It can get to this point if you can’t cut back [other] output.”
As part of EBRI’s annual Workplace Wellness Survey, 2,016 American workers between the ages of 21 and 64 were surveyed from July 7 to July 27. The survey did not reveal which specific costs (such as insurance premiums and expenses) have increased for employees.
In some ways, it’s not surprising that a third of workers reported higher health care costs this year, according to Frontin. Americans use more health services compared to last year when health facilities closed or people were afraid to go to face-to-face appointments, he said.
In 2020, annual healthcare costs fell 4.2% compared to 2019, according to a medical index published in May by consulting firm Milliman. According to the consultancy, it was the first drop in this price index since the Americans canceled or postponed care.
According to Milliman, healthcare costs are expected to increase 8.4% this year (to $ 28,256) year over year. (The company measures the cost of a family of four that is covered by the average employer-funded preferred provider organization or PPO health insurance.)
According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the price consumers pay for medical care was 0.4% higher in August 2021, compared to the previous year. (These statistics relate to the U.S. population, as opposed to Milliman’s data, which reflects those covered by an workplace health plan.)
According to the EBRI survey, increased health care costs resulted in 49% of employees reducing their retirement savings, 48% postponing a doctor’s visit, 48% increasing credit card debt, and 47% using up all or most of their savings.
However, not all effects were negative – 63% also increased contributions to health savings accounts, a tax-privileged account for employees with high-deductible health insurances.