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Report: Some Utahns Struggle to Pay Health-Care Deductibles

PHOTO: Prescription medications are among the health care items many people in Utah still can't afford, according to a new report which looks at the impact of the cost of deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PHOTO: Prescription medications are among the health care items many people in Utah still can't afford, according to a new report which looks at the impact of the cost of deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
June 4, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, more people in Utah than ever before have health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

But a new report finds many people are still passing up routine medical care because they say they can't afford to use their plans.

Ron Pollack is executive director of Families USA, the consumer health advocacy group that compiled the report. He says deductibles of $1500 per year or more often are to blame.

"Over one-quarter – 25.2 percent – of the adults who had year-round, non-group health insurance, went without medical care because they couldn't afford that care," he points out.

The report recommends that more insurers look for ways to redesign their so-called Silver plans, which are aimed at low to middle income consumers, to allow lower out-of-pocket expenses for routine doctor's visits, prescriptions and basic lab work.

Lydia Mitts, a report co-author, says states can go further toward ensuring that more people can afford the basic care they need, which she says will help avoid more serious health problems and more expensive health care costs down the road.

"State policymakers could require that every insurer in their state offer at least one Silver plan that covers basic outpatient services and prescription drugs before the deductible is paid," she explains.

While some within the insurance industry say it would be too costly, Mitts argues it's already being done.

Six state-based health insurance marketplaces offer Silver plans that cover primary care visits, specialists, plus prescriptions and other outpatient services, with a low co-pay.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT