AFFORDABILITY: Healthcare on Notice for Patients

By Staff Reporters



People living in the US are finding it increasingly difficult to afford needed health services—even with employer-sponsored health insurance, a new analysis suggests.


Researchers at the NYU School of Global Public Health (GPH) examined data from the National Health Interview Survey—an annual CDC survey—that was collected from 2000 to 2020 for 230,000+ adults who received health insurance through an employer or union. Both men and women found most healthcare services to be less affordable now compared to the early 2000s, according to the finding of the NYU analysis reported in a December 2022 JAMA abstract. Women, in particular, found all types of health services to be less affordable than men.

From a nationally representative survey which is conducted annually, researchers included data from 5,545 women and 5,353 men sampled in 2020, and found that about 6% of women reported they couldn’t afford needed medical care. This compares to just 3% of slightly larger sample groups from 2000, per the analysis. By contrast, about 3% of men gave that response in 2020, compared to 2% in 2000.

Avni Gupta, a doctoral student in the public health policy and management department at NYU GPH and the lead author of the analysis, offered that “lower incomes and higher healthcare needs among women could be driving these differences in reported affordability.”

And, José Pagán, the department chair and co-author of the JAMA analysis, said people with employer-sponsored coverage—the largest source of health insurance for people living in the US—“generally think they are protected.”

“[B]ut our findings show that health-related benefits have been eroding over time,” he said; according to Healthcare Brew





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