Oregon families hit by rising health care costs, spending exceeds national averages

The OHA said these cost increases crowd out other expenses in families’ budgets.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Oregon Health Authority released a report Monday showing some of the impacts of rising health care costs on Oregon families and individuals in 2019, with average costs totaling more than 23 % of family expenses.

According to an OHA press release, Oregon’s out-of-pocket spending on health care increased 34% between 2013 and 2019, exceeding national averages.

Between out-of-pocket charges and rising premiums, health care costs put Oregonians’ financial stability at risk, report finds, as 10% of Oregonians reported using all or most part of their savings because of medical bills.

“This report fleshes out with data a disturbing picture of the impacts of rising health care costs on Oregon families,” said Jeremy Vandehey, director of the Oregon Health Authority’s Health Policy and Analytics Division. “While we have long known that the rate of rising costs was unsustainable, COVID has shown us with startling relief how important access to affordable care is for families in Oregon. not only bad health outcomes, but they also cause real financial harm to Oregonians.

He added that the data in this report reinforces “the need in our state for our cost growth goal, which aims to limit annual increases in statewide health care costs to 3.4%.” over the next few years”.

And even though the pandemic has destabilized so much, we still know that families in Oregon cannot bear any further burdens when it comes to health care costs,” Vandehey said.

The OHA said some of the impacts of unsustainable healthcare costs mentioned in the report include people delaying care, being unable to pay medical bills over the past year, and having difficulty paying medical bills over time. time, among other factors.

The announcement noted that a committee recently held a hearing focused on the “real stories” of people’s struggles with high medical costs. A public comment from a small business owner said the owner had a high-deductible health plan that doesn’t cover anything until the $8,000 deductible is reached.

The OHA said another person compared his medical bills to the equivalent of paying another mortgage, “with no income other than my fixed retirement that is supposed to last for years.”

According to the report, commercial health insurance premiums in Oregon increased by 22% between 2013 and 2019, for individual and family plans. In 2019, the average family premium was $19,405 and the average single premium was $6,651.

“On average, Oregonians pay between a quarter and a third of their premiums for family plans and less than a quarter for individual plans; employers pay the rest. However, the employer’s share of health insurance premiums is often considered part of total compensation, and employees often bear these rising health insurance costs due to declining wages,” said the OHA.

In addition to paying health insurance premiums, some people also have to pay a deductible under their health insurance plan. The agency explains a deductible as the amount a person pays for their care before their health insurance starts paying.

Unlike health insurance premiums, the OHA says the deductible is only paid when people seek health care services. Nine out of 10 people in Oregon with commercial health insurance have a deductible, according to the report.

Between 2013 and 2019, deductibles for commercial insurance family plans increased by 40% to an average of $3,634, and deductibles for individual plans increased by 51% to an average of $1,958. depending on the results.

The OHA said these cost increases crowd out other expenses in families’ budgets. With health and health insurance spending accounting for 23% of all household spending in the report, the second largest category of household spending was housing, then utilities, followed by fuels at 19.8%.

“As a state, we have made the choice to begin to address these rising costs, which are putting pressure on families and increasingly forcing difficult choices between health care and other necessities like accommodation and food,” Vandehey said. “Given the dire trends and consequences, we need to contain the growth in health care costs in a way that does not affect people’s health, the quality of health services or exacerbate health inequalities. By working collectively, we can achieve sustainable health care costs – so families can get the care they need and budget for more than just health care.

For more details on the report, click here.