Americans are personally spending far more on healthcare than previous estimates, a new study by Deloitte concludes.
The study focused on out-of-pocket expenses that typically go beyond the cost of physicians, hospitals and prescription coverage. As a result, Deloitte estimated that consumers spend just under 20 percent of household income on healthcare, up from previous estimates of 16.2 percent. That's about $363 billion more than previously estimated.
More than half of those expenditures were tied to care provided by unpaid relatives or friends, with smaller amounts spent on alternative medicine practitioners and nutritional supplements.
"Our study explores the financial context for the decisions consumers - not simply patients - make about how they spend their money on healthcare, which will only increase in importance as healthcare reform continues to take hold," said Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.
Deloitte's study, "The Hidden Costs of U.S. Healthcare for Consumers," was based on a telephone survey of more than 1,000 adults conducted last fall.