Nearly Half of Families in High-Deductible Health Plans Whose Members Have Chronic Conditions Face Substantial Financial Burden

Health Affairs
Vol. 30, No. 2
February 2011
Galbraith, A.A., et al.
pp. 322-331

High-deductible health plans—typically with deductibles of at least $1,000 per individual and $2,000 per family—require greater enrollee cost sharing than traditional plans. But they also may provide more affordable premiums and may be the lowest-cost, or only, coverage option for many families with members who are chronically ill. We surveyed families with chronic conditions in high-deductible plans and families in traditional plans to compare health care–related financial burden—such as experiencing difficulty paying medical or basic bills or having to set up payment plans. Almost half (48 percent) of the families with chronic conditions in high-deductible plans reported health care–related financial burden, compared to 21 percent of families in traditional plans. Almost twice as many lower-income families in high-deductible plans spent more than 3 percent of income on health care expenses as lower-income families in traditional plans (53 percent versus 29 percent). As health reform efforts advance, policy makers must consider how to modify high-deductible plans to reduce the financial burden for families with chronic conditions.

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