Nearly 10 percent of your pay goes right to health care costs, report finds
Health care coverage for New Jersey workers is taking a much bigger chunk out of their incomes compared to years past, according to an analysis released Wednesday.
The Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation devoted to promoting a high-performing health care system nationwide, said an average 9.1 percent of median household income in New Jersey was eaten up by workers' deductibles and premiums for family plans in 2015. Those costs represented 5 percent of income in 2006 and 6.7 percent of income in 2010.
"What we're finding nationally is that many families are spending, on average, a bigger share of their income on health care than they were prior to 2010, even despite the slowdown in health care costs in a lot of states," co-author Sara Collins told New Jersey 101.5.
So the main driver of this costly finding is stagnant wages, Collins said. In New Jersey and dozens of other states, annual premium growth has slowed in the years since 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was enacted.
New Jersey is actually better off than the nation as a whole, where premiums and deductibles account for more than 10 percent of household income.
The deductible growth rate slowed in about half the states, but it remained the same in New Jersey - 7 percent annual growth from 2006-2010 and 2010-2015. Still, what was a $900 deductible in 2006 is a $1,600 deductible today.
"The big concern is when people have these high deductibles, whether they're getting the health care that they need," Collins said. "Or are they seeing that deductible as a disincentive to go into the doctor when they're sick? Are they not filling their prescriptions, or are they spreading their medications over a longer period of time, just to keep their costs down?"
According to Collins, employers have been able to follow Obamacare's new requirements without placing too much of the burden on workers. For example, employers must now offer coverage to their workers' children until age 26, and they're required to provide preventive care at no cost to employees.
And at approximately 150 million, there has not been a drop-off in the number of people with employer health coverage, despite increased availability in the marketplace, Collins said.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.