Employer plans are unsuitable for many Americans, survey finds

Four in 10 people insured by employer-provided health plans find their out-of-pocket costs are so expensive they need to dip into savings and take on debt, according to a nationwide survey of 2,500 Americans enrolled in employer-sponsored coverage.

Nearly half of the respondents said they would struggle to afford healthcare expenses should a medical emergency occur, or they were diagnosed with a chronic illness.

The survey evaluated the effectiveness of traditional employer-provided health plans for its members. It concluded that these health plans are not meeting the needs of many Americans, given that out-of-pocket expenses exceed the monthly budget of about two-thirds of insured individuals. Conducted by Curative Insurance Company, a healthcare services company where members can qualify for $0 deductibles and $0 copays for in-network care after it introduced a new plan in September 2022, and The Health Analytics and Insights Group, the survey showed the strain medical costs is having on families.

“The results from our recent survey reveal that both employers and employees are not getting the value they deserve from their current health insurance plans,” said Fred Turner, CEO and cofounder of Curative. “With the Curative health plan, members can confidently access their benefits whenever they need care, without financial stress or worry.”

According to Curative survey results, around 70% of insured Americans with employer-based plans have an annual deductible. Premiums for employees enrolled in family plans have increased 20% over the past five years.

Analysis from the American Hospital Association found that 37% of adults would not be able to afford a $400 emergency, about $1,000 less than the average general annual deductible. Curative’s survey showed some health plans are having side effects including avoided care, increased absenteeism and lower productivity.

For people in high-deductible plans, 65% of respondents reported their personal health has negatively impacted work performance. Members in high-deductible plans also said they needed healthcare in the last three months but avoided treatment due to cost. That sentiment was found for people enrolled in all types of plans, as 35% of people have deferred medical care within the last year due to concerns over cost, and 46% anticipate they will have trouble in the future. Even more critically, 17% of people said they cut back on food, clothing and other basic needs to afford healthcare bills, while 16% increased their credit card debt and 8% took on additional jobs or worked more hours.

Respondents with autoimmune disorders (65%) said they have postponed care in the last year. That number rises to 69% for LGBTQ+ respondents.

A survey released by Aflac in July revealed that half of U.S. adults skip common health screenings, which is often when patients discover illnesses such as cancer. Curative’s report had similar results; 42% of respondents skipped preventative health services such as yearly checkups.

These findings are accentuated in certain groups and underrepresented populations. Mothers were three times more impacted than fathers by out-of-pocket costs. Nearly 80% of individuals from communities that identify as Hispanic or LGBTQ are more likely to pay for healthcare services that were not covered by insurance.

And while understanding insurance coverage is burdensome for all people, white people were less likely to say they had “jump through hoops” by filling out administrative paperwork to get the care they needed. More than half of Hispanics said they spent at least two or more hours with their insurance company to get the medicine they required in the last three months.