A Devastating Toll of the Healthcare Affordability Crisis on U.S. Workers is Revealed

The healthcare affordability crisis is having a detrimental impact on overall financial wellbeing and behaviors. In a recent Centivo survey, nearly three in five (59%) respondents say they had to make financial sacrifices due to significant medical expenses over the past two years.

A recent Centivo survey of employees with employer-sponsored health insurance revealed the healthcare affordability crisis is having a detrimental impact on overall financial wellbeing and behaviors. In fact, nearly three in five (59%) survey respondents say they had to make financial sacrifices due to significant medical expenses over the past two years.

These findings come from the Centivo Healthcare and Financial Sacrifices Survey, 2021. Centivo conducted the survey in August 2021 among 805 U.S. adults ages 18 to 64 with employer-sponsored private health insurance.

The most common financial sacrifices made by respondents regarding household necessities included cutting back on groceries (51%) and utilities (22%). Alarmingly, one in ten report a significant medical expense has even caused them and their families to skip meals/go hungry, according to a release by Centivo.

Significant medical expenses also caused problematic behaviors among those making financial sacrifices, such as taking on credit card debt (60%), completely depleting savings (37%) and borrowing from retirement accounts (23%).

“One of the root causes of the healthcare affordability crisis for US workers is the prevalence of sky-high deductibles,” said Ashok Subramanian, CEO, Centivo, in the release. “These high deductibles are often paired with low premiums that ‘make budgets work’ but are also a financial gamble that far too many workers are losing. It’s appalling that we’re seeing people who are insured through their employers withdraw money from their retirement accounts and even go hungry due to medical bills.”

The problematic role of high deductibles is exemplified by the survey finding that more than half (54%) of insured workers with deductibles of $4,000 or more reported incurring a significant medical expense; far higher than lower deductible levels. Emergency savings levels are also insufficient; 43% of respondents with a deductible of $4,000 or more said they do not have the funds to cover that amount, the release said.

“Employers and their advisors must factor in these downstream financial impacts when examining their health benefit strategies,” said Subramanian. “They should consider lowering or eliminating deductibles while at the same time elevating and emphasizing advanced primary care and all of its well-documented positive health and financial outcomes. These are practical, realistic steps employers can take in restoring healthcare affordability for workers and their families.”