Patients lack savings, make sacrifices for care, survey finds

Patients lack savings and are likely to make sacrifices to afford care, a new survey by Centivo, the self-funded health plan, found.

The survey was conducted in August of 2021 and reached 805 adults from the ages of 18 to 64 who had employer-based private health insurance for the past two years. The company conducted the survey to better understand the burden of medical expenses. 

Most respondents had some deductible, but those in the lower-income bracket ($50,000 to $74,999) were much more likely to have one than those in the highest bracket.

The highest average deductible was for a family plan, at $3,102; for an individual plan, it was $1,911. Nearly half of those with the highest deductible ($4,000 or more) reported having less than that in an emergency fund. Meanwhile, a quarter of those with the lowest deductible (under $1,000) also reported having less than that saved. 

Those with higher deductibles were more likely to have significant medical expenses and to avoid care due to costs, the survey found.

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One-third of insured respondents reported incurring significant medical expenses in the last two years (since July 2019). The vast majority of those who made sacrifices to cover costs incurred debt. More than half reported sacrificing household necessities, including limiting grocery spending. More than a third completely depleted their savings. And nearly a quarter borrowed from retirement savings, according to the survey results.

Among those insured with significant expenses, most reported it having some type of impact on their own mental health or their family’s well-being. 

Most respondents reported being willing to sacrifice features of their health plan ranging from the ability to access any pharmacy to seeing their specialists if they could get up to a 30% cost reduction in their current plan.