Things like Obamacare cannot be discussed, it seems, in anything but a political context. So if you don't like Obamacare, everything that happens has to be bad. But I actually think this is good news, and goes against my fears in advance of Obamacare. I had been worried that Obamacare would just increase the trends of more and more health care spending being by third-party payers. And my guess is that this is happening, when you consider how many people have gone from paying cash to having a policy, either a regular policy or expanded Medicaid.
A report out today puts numbers behind what hit many workers when they signed up for health insurance during open enrollment last year: deductible shock.
Premiums for employer-paid insurance are up 3% this year, but deductibles are up nearly 50% since 2009, the report by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows.
The average deductible this year is $1,217, up from $826 five years ago, Nearly 20% of workers overall have to pay at least $2,000 before their insurance kicks in, while workers at firms with 199 or fewer employees are feeling the pain of out-of-pocket costs even more: A third of these employees at small companies pay at least $2,000 deductibles.
“Skin-in-the-game insurance” is becoming the norm,says Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman, referring to the higher percentage of health care costs employees have to share.
Honestly, this is good news, sort of. I don't like the coercion and lack of choice, but the main problem with health care is that the person receiving the benefits is not the person paying the bills, which means there is no incentive to shop or make care tradeoffs. Higher deductibles mean more people are going to be actively shopping and caring what health services cost, and that is a good thing for prices and health care inflation.