Health care and health insurance costs continue to climb

Blood pressure

Your blood pressure could go up if you add up all the costs of health care. Image: Flickr / sundazed / CC-BY-SA

Health care costs are rising; no matter what direction health care reform is decided, insurance costs are expected to go up. For the average family of four with an employer-supported health care plan, costs are expected to top $20,000 in 2012.

The rising cost of health care

The annual cost of health insurance and health care is going up. Between 2007 and 2012, health care costs rose between 7 and 8 percent annually. In 2012, a survey by Buck Consultants found that insurers and administrators expect that health care costs will rise by another 9.9 percent this year. For most families of four, these rising expenses mean that health care expenses will reach about $20,000 per year.

Employees taking the costs

Part of the reason health care costs for employees are going up is employers are not absorbing much of the increasing cost of health care. Instead of paying the same percentage of health care costs, employers are instead passing along these rising costs to the employees. Employers often pay a percentage of the cost of a health care plan in addition to administration costs. Employers, however, are allowed to choose how much of their employee health care plan they pay, and a group plan often makes it much less expensive.

Out of pocket costs

The cost of health care, for employees, breaks down to two sets of costs. First, the premium for health care coverage paid out of each paycheck or at a monthly rate. Second, the deductible that must be paid before that health care coverage kicks in. Finally, the cost of co-pays on office visits. These out-of-pocket costs, all added up, are getting more expensive as health care costs continue to go up.

[In an emergency, installment loans can help cover the costs of co-pays and deductibles.]

The question of reform

The costs of health care are expected to change somewhat, depending on what direction the Supreme Court decides the Affordable Care Act. The Act is built to help make health care more affordable for the 50 million uninsured and under-insured individuals in the United States. If the act is upheld by the Supreme Court, insurers will be required to help keep health care costs down. If the act is struck down by the Supreme Court, the cost of health care is going to likely go up because the same amount of health care costs will be spread out over fewer people.


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