An article in the Washington Post today shares the findings of a recent study which compared the out-of-pocket expenses between families with a high-deductible health insurance plan and the traditional employer-based health insurance.
They particularly highlighted how these plans affect the out of pocket costs of childbirth:
The study found that those enrolled in a traditional health plan for federal employees (with a $500 annual deductible and $20 co-payments for office visits) would likely pay $1,455 out of pocket for care during an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. That compared to $3,000 for families in a high-deductible plan for federal employees and $7,000 for a high-deductible plan offered through small businesses.
Bush and his administration have been pushing these new high-deductible plans (meaning some people have to pay upwards of $2000 before their insurance kicks in) as a way to reduce health care spending–but only by encouraging individuals to spend less.
The theory is that the plans, by making consumers more aware of the costs of care, give people an incentive to shop for the best prices and to forgo procedures they do not need. A Rand Corp. survey last year found that both employers and plan participants reported spending less on health care under the plans, but in some cases people were skipping necessary care.
This type of policy obviously disproportionately affects low-income people (who are much less likely to be able to afford the high deductibles) and also puts all the impetus for lowering health care costs on the individual rather than the other players in the health care crisis: providers and insurance companies.
With the outrageous rise in maternity care costs, the last thing we need are insurance policies which place the financial burden on the families–particularly when so many women are given interventions they don’t need or want in the hospital. How many women are told the cost of an epidural before they are given one?