More Americans Struggle with Health Costs

April 25, 2007 ( - To cope with rising health care costs, many working Americans with health insurance are deferring medical visits and cutting back prescriptions, according to a new study commissioned by a workplace benefits provider.

A news release from the San Mateo, California-based WageWorks said that more than half of the respondents to its recent survey who have employer health insurance have put off a medical or dental visit in the last year. Not only that but just over one in five (22%) reported that they have cut back on prescription medicine.

The poll found that more than 71% of insured Americans surveyed say that they are concerned about out-of-pocket health care costs such as medication, co-pays, insurance plan deductibles and lab fees. A majority of respondents chalk up rising costs to actions by health insurance companies (55%), while a significant number also cited employers scaling back on health benefits (43%) and general rising costs (40%).

Sixty percent of those who get employer insurance expect to get less coverage in the future, the survey found. Over the next three to five years, nearly one third of respondents expect their employer’s contribution to health insurance will be cut in half, while a quarter (24%) expect their employer to replace conventional insurance with high-deductible plans.

When asked about who will be most responsible for keeping health care spending as low as possible, 44% believed it would be their individual responsibility. Half as many said their employer or health insurance company would be most responsible.

Also, nearly 60% of respondents revealed that they are not prepared to handle the expense of an unexpected medical issue. Almost one-third admit that they would need to borrow money, while another 28% confess they have no idea how they would pay for an unexpected medical event.

In addition:

  • 75% of insured respondents have no form of savings account that they use for unexpected expenses, including health care.
  • Just 16% use a flexible spending account (FSA). More than 60% are aware of FSAs but don’t have one.
  • Almost as many respondents are aware of health savings accounts. Yet even fewer (8%) use one.

This survey was conducted by Kelton Research between March 23 and March 28, 2007 using an e-mail invitation and an online survey. The survey targeted those ages 26-65 who receive health insurance through their or their spouse’s employer.

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