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Survey: Out-of Pocket Costs a Major Health Concern

by Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

Feb 26, 2021
Closeup of father measuring sick son's temperature and talking with a doctor via video call from home.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A new survey shows Pennsylvanians are worried they can’t afford the high out-of-pocket costs for health care, and they want relief.

The survey, by Consumers for Quality Care, said Americans believe the pandemic has exposed serious flaws in the healthcare system, even though it’s done a good job getting the country through a critical time.

More than one in ten Pennsylvanians pays at least 10% of their income on insurance premiums, and 6% spend that much or more on out-of-pocket costs, like co-pays and deductibles.

Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, said it may prevent people from seeking the care they need when a routine physical finds a potential problem.

“Then I need to get some diagnostic testing and I have a high out-of-pocket expense, so I delay that further care, and I end up sicker and costlier down the road,” Kraus explained.

She added with so many people out of work because of COVID-19, more are delaying routine and follow-up medical visits out of concern for the high cost of care.

Jason Resendez, board member at Consumers for Quality Care, noted the survey found a large majority of voters nationwide want Congress to make healthcare cost a top priority.

“The fact that 67% of consumers said Congress needs to focus on controlling costs, I think that’s a pretty big message for policymakers to hear right now, in the midst of this pandemic,” Resendez contended.

He emphasized more than 90% of voters agree deductibles should be low enough to not be a barrier to accessing healthcare.

Kraus pointed out the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan addresses healthcare costs though the Affordable Care Act, by extending assistance for premiums in the form of tax credits. But she thinks more needs to be done.

“We need to look at the underlying cost of care, and also figuring out ways to help people who are struggling with out-of-pocket expenses,” Kraus concluded.

To help policymakers address these concerns, Consumers for Quality Care has issued a Negotiator’s Guide to Health Care Reform.

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