Navigation Links
Post-Recession Incomes Will Be Hit Hard by Health Care Spending for Middle Class Working Families, PENN Analysis Shows

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.

The authors arrive at this conclusion by making use of a practice common among health economists. In calculating employee health care expenditures, they include not only the most obvious categories of spending -- out-of-pocket spending and premium contributions deducted from workers' paychecks -- but also forgone wages that employers instead contribute to premiums. They also include the share of income taxes that are devoted to public insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. (The lay perspective typically sees employer premiums as a contribution from employers toward the cost of health care insurance, not as forgone economic opportunities for themselves).

The authors note that as family income increases, employee-paid and employer-paid premiums as a percentage of overall compensation decreases. In other words, middle-income families pay a larger percentage of their income in the form of health care premiums and forgo a larger percentage of what would have been direct income to themselves compared to upper-income families.

For example, health care expenditures, which represent 25 percent of a two-income family's total $48,000 compensation, consist of employee-paid premiums and out-of pocket expenses (8.6 percent) and health care premiums paid by an employer with wages that the family otherwise would have received, and by the government from a share of the taxes paid by the family (16.5 percent). In the case of a family with a combined income of $97,000, health care accounts for 16.7 percent of the compensation, with employee-paid premiums and out-of pocket expenses totaling 6.4 percent and employer contributions and taxes totaling 12.2 percent.

Finally, at the $175,000 level, health care accounts for 13.9 percent of a family's compensation -- with 2.6 percent being employee-paid premiums and out-of pocket expenses and 11.3 coming in the form of employer contributions and taxes.

Further, while in all three cases per capita health care expenditures have grown at a rate of three percent, income has been growing at a slower rate for middle income families: 0.6 percent for the $48,000 household, one percent for the $97,000 household, and 1.5 percent for the $175,000 household. Faster income growth, coupled with a smaller percentage of income going toward health care, enables higher-income households to more easily absorb increases in health care costs as well as have more money available for non-health-care goods and services than lower-income families.

According to Dr. Polsky, "Growth in employers' contributions toward health insurance premiums translates into slower growth in wages than would otherwise have occurred. Because this fact is not apparent to most families, the health care reform proposals that aim to control costs do not receive the level of support they deserve."

Dr. Grande notes: "The growth in the rate of spending on health care hits the household finances of middle-class workers harder because health care makes up a larger proportion of their budget. Progressive taxation could simultaneously address the regressive nature of health care cost growth and provide financing for health care reform. "

PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to the National Institutes of Health, received over $366 million in NIH grants (excluding contracts) in the 2008 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation's top ten "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, named one of the nation's "100 Top Hospitals" for cardiovascular care by Thomson Reuters. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.

Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Average Americans Without Health Insurance Are Young and Healthy With Above Average Incomes
2. Allsup Finds Healthcare Costs Consuming Larger Part of Fixed Incomes
3. People With Lower Incomes, Lower Education Levels Have Higher Death Rates After Experiencing Heart Attack
4. People with lower incomes, lower education levels have higher death rates
5. In Letter to Congress, NORD Urges Action on Healthcare Reform
6. House Energy & Commerce Committee Accepts Independence at Home Pilot Program as Amendment During Health Bill Markup
7. Minority and Womens Advocacy Groups Send Letter to California Attorney General Jerry Brown Requesting Investigation Into Discrimination by Health Insurance Companies
8. House Measure Proves Healthcare Legislation Will Fund Abortion, Says Family Research Council Action
9. Health Care Statement of Catholic Charities USA
10. Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Urges Pennsylvanians to Get Immunized
11. Homelessness Tied to Kids Mental Health
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... their Black Friday sale a week early, offering 40% off select bras and ... intimate apparel industry through both mobile fit technology and the latest fashion, quickly ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... DMG Productions announced that they will ... first quarter 2016 via Discovery Channel. Dates and show times TBA. , Aphria, Inc., ... in the business of producing and supplying medical marijuana pursuant to the Marijuana for ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... City, UT (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... Forbes Magazine. For a business, it is critical that the first impression be positive ... business, they are not likely to buy anything or want to return. They will ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Richey, FL (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... deems a growing epidemic as deaths from prescription opioids in the United States grew ... and cocaine. In 2013 alone, opioids were involved in 37 percent of all fatal ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ALEXANDRIA, VA (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 ... ... encourages people across the United States to support their local poison centers through ... been designated as #GivingTuesday: calls it “a day that inspires people to ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- The uptake of recently approved and pipeline premium products ... market growth to 2021, says GBI Research . ... for Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM), will be a key driver of ... --> The uptake of recently approved and pipeline premium ... of market growth to 2021, says GBI Research ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015   Renowned ... deliver s advice and insights on ... More than 50% of Dubai ... according to the DHA   femMED launches comprehensive solutions for ... Dubai residents are not consuming enough to keep ...
(Date:11/24/2015)...  Freudenberg Medical has developed specialty tubing for an inexpensive, ... facilities. Africa and ... Nevertheless, prompt diagnosis is important to treat those affected and ... the help of a portable mini-lab or "lab on a ... affected areas and perform rapid testing for HIV. They do ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: