Into the Medicare-for-All Debate Jump Concerns About Deductibles

Not everybody is clinging to their employer-sponsored health plan, according to a new survey.

Americans for the most part like Medicare for all in theory, but when they’re told that that means they’ll be forced off their current employer-sponsored plan—which many like—the support dwindles to the point where 58% actually oppose Medicare for all. At least that’s what a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in January found.

But a survey released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Los Angeles Times adds a little nuance by finding what some might call the obvious, except that it hasn’t been stated yet: The higher the deductible the less likely someone will be happy with his employer-sponsored coverage.

“The experiences and attitudes of people with employer coverage differ vastly depending on whether they are in a higher or lower deductible plan,” today’s survey states. “The higher the deductible, the more likely an individual is to have negative views of their health plan, and the more likely they are to experience problems affording care or to put off care due to cost.”

Today’s survey of 1,407 adults between 18 and 64 was conducted online and by telephone from Sept. 25 to Oct. 8, 2018 in English and Spanish. The survey says that 40% of respondents face some sort of affordability problem, the most common being paying for medical bills before they’ve reached their deductible.

“Among those in the plans with the highest deductibles (at least $3,000 for an individual or $5,000 for a family), over half say the amount of savings they could easily access in the short term is less than the amount of their deductible.”

Drew Altman, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s CEO, tells the Los Angeles Times: “There has been a quiet revolution in what health insurance means in this country. This happened under the radar while everyone was focused on the Affordable Care Act.”

The ACA debate was mainly about how to provide insurance coverage for those who don’t have it. “We forgot that most people get their insurance through an employer, and for them, the issue is medical bills that they increasingly cannot afford,” Altman said.