Health Insurance Costs to Top Household Income by 2033, Report Says

Friday, 16 Mar 2012 12:32 PM

By Michelle Lopata

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The average cost of health insurance for American families will surpass  average household income by 2033, according to a new report by the Annals of Family Medicine.

The study by Dr. Jennifer DeVoe and Dr. Richard Young for the Annals of Family Medicine used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau to look at how much money Americans usually spend on health insurance and how much the average American earns each year and figure out just how much health insurance will cost in the future. The results are staggering.

“If health insurance premiums and national wages continue to grow at recent rates and the U.S. health insurance makes no major structural changes, the average cost of a family health insurance premium will equal 50 percent of the household income by the year 2021, and surpass the average household income by the year 2033,” the report finds.

“Private health insurance will become increasingly unaffordable to low- to middle-income Americans unless major changes are made in the U.S. healthcare system.”

Also projected in the report is the cost of healthcare for a family. DeVoe and Young calculated “the average amount an employee pays for a health insurance premium plus out-of-pocket family healthcare expenses.”

They concluded: “Without major structural changes in the U.S. healthcare system, the employee contribution to a family premium plus out-of-pocket costs will comprise one-half the household income by 2031 and total income by 2042.”

The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010, also known as Obamacare, was meant to reduce the numbers of uninsured and provide affordable health insurance to all Americans.

However, as the PPACA was being passed, America experienced a major recession resulting in “5 million Americans” losing their “employee-based health insurance,” making the “the number of persons without health insurance in the United States rise to a historic high of 50.7 million people” between 2007-2009, according to the report.

The doctors suggest that America must understand that it is fiscally impossible to cover every healthcare need of every individual in the country, proposing that relationships with doctors be re-evaluated now instead of being left for future generations.

“We can choose to continue along the current path, which will leave the difficult decisions to our children and grandchildren, who will be crushed by the debt created by the excesses of this generation,” the doctors warn.

Or we can engage in “a deeper discussion of the very role and importance of the healthcare system in our lives, possibly including new expectations of the doctor-patient relationship.

“The tipping point may come when patients and physicians realize that we cannot provide all possible services to all people, no matter how rare the benefit or expensive the service.”

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