Californians Concerned About Health Care Costs, New Survey Finds

TOPIC ALERT:

Californians are concerned about increasing health care costs, according to a survey from the California HealthCare Foundation, HealthyCal reports. CHCF publishes California Healthline.

However, only about 25% of respondents said they have sought pricing information before obtaining care and almost 50% said they did not know the cost of their health insurance deductible, the survey found.

Additional Survey Findings

The survey also found that:

  • Most respondents said their health insurance premium rates have not changed substantially and that their benefits have remained stable (HealthyCal, 3/21);
  • Nearly 75% of respondents said they expect their health costs to increase in the future;
  • Almost 40% of respondents who reported that their health care costs have risen said they expect their benefits to worsen rather than improve (CHCF survey, March 2012);
  • Slightly more than 33% of respondents reported delaying care in the previous year because of costs; and
  • 25% of respondents said they delayed getting a regular physical because of costs (HealthyCal, 3/21).
susan smith
Those who don't know their deductible are likely covered by their employers. Employer coverage shields many people from the cost of care. All they really pay attention to is the $20 co-pay. If they had to pay out of pocket or through an private plan, they'd be thrust into the reality of today's costs. People would very quickly start paying attention to prices and they might even see the financial benefit of getting preventive care to lessen the chance of more expensive care down the road.
Maribeth Shannon
Thanks for the thoughtful comments. One of the underlying threads in the survey seemed to be that there are two groups of consumers -- those buying their own coverage (often with very high deductibles) who are cost-conscious and another sizeable chunk of the population that has limited financial liability (often with HMO coverage). Maribeth Shannon, Director, Market & Policy Monitor Program, California HealthCare Foundation.
Lucy Johns
Bravo Hatti Hamlin for being a literate, alert, and assertive health services' consumer! Now, how can people who don't/can't think about health services as we on this list do, do better?! Consigning them to no insurance will only prevent use of services even when needed. Health literacy is our next frontier.
Hatti Hamlin
Who ARE these respondents? As an individual policy holder, I can tell you within pennies exactly what my insurance costs--and also tell you that it has more than doubled in cost in the past 5 years. And that took place despite the fact that we have an $8000 deductible, take NO prescription drugs, have no preexisting or chronic conditions, and had only a few minor trips to the doctor. I always ask about costs of treatment or prescriptions before proceeding--and I'm often met with bewilderment or scorn by physicians. "How would I know?" one of them asked me. A dermatologist prescribed a $255 ointment when there was a $25 off-the-shelf version that worked just fine. Maybe the real problem with high healthcare costs is not that too many Americans don't have insurance--but that too many do. If more of them were forced to think of costs as coming out of their own pockets, maybe they would stop and think before insisting their doctor order a CT Scan to diagnose vague aches and pains!

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