Colorado might have some of the healthiest Americans, but they are also home to the Americans that pay the most for medical help.
A report from JP Morgan Chase says Colorado residents are paying an average of $916 annually for out-of-pocket health care expenses, or 28 percent more than the national average.
“For every dollar spent on health care, families paid 11 cents out-of-pocket and 28 cents after including insurance costs,” the study says. “Family healthcare spending has a meaningful impact on families’ financial lives and their ability to access credit.”
Chase assessed data from 37 million account holders and found that 2.3 million of them met their criteria for the study: they had at least five outflows from a personal checking account every month, at least $5,000 take-home income every year, spent less than half of their expenses using non-Chase credit cards (like cash or checks) and were between 18 and 64 years old.
One of the main criteria was that heath payments had to be made using a Chase credit card, debit card, or electronic bill pay. In 2016, families paid $714 a year on out-of-pocket health care expenses. It was $690 in 2015 and $645 in 2014. While it was only 1.6 percent of annual income in 2016, the financial burden was much more for lower-income Americans, particularly women. JP Morgan Chase says the percentage of annual income devoted to health care expenses is small, but still makes a huge impact on finances.
“Out-of-pocket health care expenses represent a stable share of household income in aggregate, but are a source of financial strain for certain families,” the study says. “Health care spending may be large, unexpected, and concentrated in the months and years when families have a higher ability to pay.”
Colorado residents may pay the most each year, but the study shows that Louisiana families spend the most of their income on out-of-pocket health expenses, probably because the cost of living and salaries are lower there. So, the burden of expenses is much higher here than other states. The study suggests new policies to cope with the high cost of health care.
“Health care reform should take into consideration the impact on households who are more financially burdened by healthcare expenses — specifically older, low-income, and female account holders,” the study says. “Consumers would benefit from more transparent pricing and payment options to better manage healthcare expenses.”
Paying a lot for health care isn’t new, but discovering how much health care expenses affect us is. Most Americans worry they won’t be able to afford the care their families need. Health savings accounts are relatively new, but those that can afford to put money into them praise them for being able to afford paying for health care they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Those low-income Americans who end up paying a big chunk of money toward health care are the ones who need health care the most, but put it off because they can’t afford it. That just means poor people are more likely to get and stay sick because they don’t have the proper coverage.
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