A new survey from The Commonwealth Fund (reported on in Healthcare Dive) brings more bad news from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The survey confirms what we already knew—that insurance premiums and deductibles have been steadily rising over the past decade. But the degree to which costs have increased is a bit of a shocker. The Commonwealth Fund found that premium contributions for consumers who have employer-sponsored insurance have increased by a whopping 9.1% in ten years. In fact, last year alone, consumers who got insurance through their employers spent an average of $7,800 on premium and deductible contributions. And consumers shouldn’t expect to catch a break this year either, according to the study. Quite the contrary—with the pandemic’s effects now being felt across all industries, even if premiums and deductibles remain unchanged next year, which is unlikely, they could take up a larger share of employees’ income. And that’s the rub. Americans with low to moderate incomes just don’t have the money to foot these big bills. If they’re faced with a choice between insurance and food, or insurance and housing, The Commonwealth Fund predicts—quite reasonably so, we think—that they will forego health insurance. The study suggests that Congress and the incoming administration could work together to find a fix to what promises to be a problem of catastrophic proportions. But if the root of the problem is the cost of insurance, shouldn’t insurers be helping solve it?
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