High health care costs lead to unhappy workers

A recent report from Rutgers University entitled “Unhappy, Worried, and Pessimistic: Americans in the aftermath of the Great Recession” found that 70% of respondents described the typical American worker as not secure in their jobs and 68% of workers are highly stressed. A quote from the study is, “The typical American worker lives in a precarious and doleful existence — unhappy, poorly paid and fearful of losing his or her job, according to the opinions of fellow Americans responded to the survey.”

Another study from the Urban Institute, the Health Reform Monitoring Survey, which asked people with employer-based insurance coverage if they liked what they had, found that most people are happy with their choice of doctors and the ability to get ologist care. However, only half were satisfied with the premium paid for coverage, the co-pays paid when receiving care, and the deductible paid when receiving care.

Yet another report from the New York Times talks about the movement of non-health care industry employers towards very high deductible health plans. Next year, according to a study by the National Business Group on Health, about a third large employers will offer only high-deductible plans, which is up from 10% in 2010. The newspaper article tells stories of patients who skipped care because of high deductibles for office visits and tests. Another study from Kaiser in 2013 found that the average high-deductible plan for a family was over $4,000. Some of the less expensive ACA insurance products have deductibles as high as $10,000.

All of these concepts are connected. And they’re all driven by the high cost of health care in this country. When companies have to pay increasingly high costs for health insurance, which continues to rise above the general inflation rate and overall growth of the economy, and is predicted to inflate even faster over the next 10 years than during the recession era, the money has to come from somewhere. It’s coming out of workers’ pockets in the form of wage stagnation, fewer jobs, higher costs for insurance premiums, and extremely high deductibles and co-pays.

So the next time you’re swayed into buying a pink ribbon, or run a 5K to raise money or awareness for a single disease, or watch the Stand Up to Cancer show on TV, realize that you’ve just contributed to the increasing cost of health care in this country. And eventually, it came out of your paycheck in more ways than just the donation, assuming you have a job.

The high cost of health care is stressing all of us and worsening the quality of our lives. It’s just hidden several layers deep in W-2s and insurance company brochures. If this all makes sense to you, tell a friend at work and start fighting against the excesses of the U.S. health care industry. You’ll feel better when you do, and it might even save your job and your children’s future.

Richard Young is a family physician who blogs at American Health Scare

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