Judy McGinnis: Health system inequality increases wealth gap
March 9, 2018
A new study, in the American Journal of Public Health, shows that paying for health care weighs heavily on poor and middle income Americans. Household spending on medical care is a significant contributor to income inequality in the U.S. and pushes millions of Americans below the federal poverty line and some into extreme poverty. Medical debt is the number one reason for personal bankruptcy.
Those with health insurance find routine visits require deductibles and copayments and prescription costs, which can be more than they can easily afford. While the focus of debate is often on the cost of premiums, more people have trouble with their deductibles, which have increased fourfold in the last 10 years. Deductibles for 90 percent of people on the insurance exchanges are in excess of $1,300 for individuals or $2,600 per family.
Twenty percent of insured people have trouble paying their medical bills, of those, 63 percent say they used most or all of their savings for health care expenses. A recent survey shows that 69 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, so an unexpected medical bill can spell disaster for many Americans.
Currently the premium and payment structure of insurance increases the inequality gap between rich and average Americans. This doesn't happen in countries with a single payer system.
An improved Medicare for all systems would allow Americans to feel secure about their medical needs and their financial future. Please let Sen. Cory Gardner, Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Michael Bennet know that inequity in our health system hurts all Americans.
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