Health care costs are so expensive Americans put off seeing a doctor until they receive their tax refunds.

People typically look forward to spending their refund check from the IRS on big ticket items like cars or TVs, sadly a lot need them to visit the doctor.

The overall level of healthcare spending increases 60 percent the week after receiving a tax refund, says a survey from JP Morgan and Chase Institute.

The bank analyzed data from 1.2 million checking accounts of customers, who received tax refunds over the past several years. Out-of-pocket healthcare spending increases by 83 percent the week after receiving a refund check.

Although credit card spending doesn’t change, showing customers need that extra pile of cash to seek medical attention. Not surprisingly the lower the checking account balance, the more likely the healthcare spending increase.

“Families consistently delay healthcare payments until they receive tax refund payments, even though once they file they know how much to expect,” the report says. “Spending in many categories seems to increase when a tax refund payment arrives, but healthcare is special because there could be consequences to delaying it.”

How expensive is health care?

Americans spend more than $3 trillion annually on health care. The National Health Expenditure, or yearly spending on health care was 4.3 percent in 2016; which is the most recent data available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

That breaks down to $10,348 per person. There has been a four percent increase in out-of-pocket spending since the last NHE measure was taken. The overall figure is $352.5 billion. And that spending is predicted to increase over the next seven years.

The NHE projects national health spending to increase almost six percent every year until 2025.

“Throughout the 2016-25 projection period, growth in national health expenditures is driven by projected faster growth in medical prices,” the NHE reported. “This faster expected growth in prices is partially offset by projected slowing growth in the use and intensity of medical goods and services.”

Worried sick

Theses costs are becoming too much for many Americans to afford.

Putting off health care in the U.S. simply because we can’t afford doesn’t just happen near tax season. This is a regular problem in the U.S.

One quarter of Americans put off medical care due to the costs, says a survey from Bankrate.

“We already knew that many families don’t have enough of a cash buffer to cover the cost of a major medical emergency,” says Diana Farrell, president and CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute. “Now we also see a significant number of Americans put off going to the doctor and other routine health services.”

Over half (56 percent) of respondents say they’re worried about having access to affordable health insurance in the future. Which may not entirely reflect the current presidential administration. Bankrate had similar findings when the same question was asked in 2014.

Even with health insurance, medical costs are high enough for us to worry. Only 11 percent of Americans don’t have insurance, says Gallup.

Insured workers pay $1,505 out of pocket before their health insurance coverage kicks in. Which is more than 2 and a half times higher ($584) than what it was in 2005, says a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“In addition to being a major personal finance issue, this link between healthcare and cash flow could have significant consequences for public health,” Farrell says. “We need to better understand the connection between financial health and physical health, including the consequences of deferring care while waiting for cash to arrive.”

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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

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Pye is a freelance writer for Debt.com.

Budgeting & Saving, News

health, IRS, tax refund, tax returns

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Article last modified on March 4, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Tax Refunds Are Good For Your Health - AMP.