Consumers Cutting Expenses to Afford Health Care Premiums

Tamara E. Holmes
Consumers Cutting Expenses to Afford Health Care Premiums

If you’re struggling to manage rising health insurance costs, you’re not alone. More than 4 in 10 consumers are having difficulty paying their monthly health insurance premiums. As a result, many are cutting back on other monthly expenses, a new survey shows.

HealthPocket, a website that provides information on health plans, surveyed 1,000 consumers between the ages of 18 and 64 to find out how heavily health insurance costs affect them. It found that many consumers are feeling financially squeezed.

Survey respondents were enrolled in a variety of health insurance plans:

  • 58.06% had coverage through their employer
  • 21.11% had federal coverage, such as Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans Affairs benefits
  • 8.54% had purchased individual or family policies
  • 9.5% reported being uninsured

A sizable percentage of respondents across the board (nearly 42%) said they found it difficult to pay their monthly insurance premiums. Similarly, 41.23% said they cut back on other monthly expenses to pay for their insurance premiums. For many consumers, the struggle is unlikely to end soon, as 40.27% of respondents reported that their monthly health insurance premiums are rising.

Looking ahead

Affordability challenges may be contributing to the appeal of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). Sometimes referred to as catastrophic health insurance, HDHP plans require consumers to pay a certain amount in health care costs before insurance kicks in.

For 2020, the IRS is defining an HDHP as one that has a deductible of:

  • At least $1,400 for an individual
  • $2,800 for a family

While consumers with HDHPs must pay a higher deductible, such plans typically have lower premium costs than low-deductible plans.

Nearly half (49%) of respondents to a survey of 1,512 working adults by employee benefits provider Unum said they plan to enroll in an HDHP for the 2020 benefits year.

While 41% of respondents to the Unum survey didn’t expect to meet their deductible in 2019, survey findings suggest that some consumers may have trouble meeting their deductible if needed. In fact, 39% of respondents said they found it difficult to pay for out-of-pocket costs not covered by their health insurance.

Younger consumers are particularly impacted as 55% of millennials and 49% of Generation Zers reported difficulty paying out-of-pocket costs. According to Pew Research, millennials are adults between ages 23 and 38 as of 2019, while Gen Z consists of adults between ages 18 and 22.

Choosing the right health insurance plan is a serious decision that requires much thought and planning. When weighing whether to purchase an HDHP, make sure you will have enough money saved to handle out-of-pocket costs if you have a health emergency. Even if you’ve had the same health insurance for the past few years, it wouldn’t hurt to compare quotes for health insurance plans. You may find that you can get a better deal for yourself and your family.