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Post-Recession Incomes Will Be Hit Hard by Health Care Spending for Middle Class Working Families, PENN Analysis Shows
Date:7/31/2009

PHILADELPHIA, July 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a post-recession America, even though as a nation income levels may rise, middle class families still won't be shielded from the crushing burden of health care costs and will watch their standards of living continue to erode, according to a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) by Daniel Polsky, Ph.D., and David Grande, M.D., M.P.A, of the University of Pennsylvania's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

Using a series of vignettes premised on typical health care budgets for a mixture of income levels, the authors found that wage growth for middle class workers will no longer be sufficient to keep pace with the rapidly escalating costs of health care. As health care swallows a larger proportion of their family budget, standards of living will decline.

"For many families, one inevitable solution will be dropping private health insurance coverage altogether," write the authors.

In other words, even when the economy turns the corner, the problem of health care won't go away.

The authors emphasize that the key to affordable health care for all is decisive action to contain health care costs. However the authors caution that for health care reform based on private health insurance to be genuinely affordable, it will also require shifts in the distribution of health care costs within the population.

The piece, "The Burden of Health Care Costs for Working Families -- Implications for Reform," notes that absolute increases in income for the nation as a whole are outpacing absolute increases in health care spending, suggesting that health care spending is not eroding the overall capacity to purchase other goods and services. But this is not the case for an increasing number of middle class families.

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SOURCE PENN Medicine
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