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Even with insurance, people avoid the doctor

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Among people 65 and under, almost two-thirds are covered by private health insurance plans, according to the CDC. But that doesn’t mean health care is affordable. A report released today by the Commonwealth Fund shows that rising deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses are a serious problem for more than 30 million underinsured working-age adults.

Knee replacements, hysterectomies, even getting prescriptions filled, are all things people with insurance are opting not to do, simply to cut down on out-of-pocket costs, says Jeffrey Rice, CEO of Healthcare Bluebook. “As deductibles have gone up, patients’ expenses have gone up,” he says.

A mid-range health insurance deductible can be $1,200. What’s more, Rice says, over the past 20 years, the cost of healthcare has shot way up.

“What used to be $150 visit to the ER to get a few stitches now turns into a $2,000 or $3,000 bill,” Rice says.

So a lot of people are thinking long and hard before going to the doctor. Dylan Roby, of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, says many health plans try to steer people toward preventive care. But here’s the catch: “If there’s not enough education and awareness about it, people still are going to see the deductible upfront as a big cost barrier,” he says.

Roby says if people take time to learn what’s free under their health plans, they might avoid bigger problems later.



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