Even Employed People with Health Insurance are Worried about Health Care Costs

Gallup published survey results in April showing health care was American’s top concern. According to the poll, 55% of Americans worried “a great deal” about “the availability and affordability of health care,” and another 25% worried a “fair amount.” Notably, only 23% worried a great deal about unemployment and 33% worried about the economy in general.

Keep in mind when Gallup asked the same questions in 2011 and 2012, 71% of people worried “a great deal” about the economy, but about the same percentage worried about health care costs a great deal as are worried today.

This implies people are feeling flush and have jobs, but still worried about affording health care. Why is that?

In part this is because across roughly the same time period, both health insurance premiums and deductibles have risen, even for people with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI). A study by the University of Pennsylvania Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the United States of Care, also published in April, found that between 2010 and 2016 incomes only grew by about 20%, but premiums grew by approximately 30%, and deductibles grew by more than 55%, nationally. The study provides a state-by-state breakdown but the graphics below give a snapshot of how premiums and deductibles have jumped.

It is no wonder then, that in another Gallup survey released this month, participants said, “Given the choice between a 10% increase in income or a complete five year freeze of health care costs, 61% of people said they’d choose the latter.”

At both the federal and state levels, policymakers are being asked by constituents to come up with ways to make health care more affordable. While some might hear the phrase health care costs and think hospitals or prescription drugs, these survey results and state-by-state data show the cost of health insurance – even for those receiving coverage through their employer – is becoming unmanageable.

When the people who everyone thinks have the “best coverage” are complaining about that coverage, we would do well to broaden the debate. Policy solutions need to focus on the cost of health insurance in order to address people’s concerns. Elected officials, are you listening?