Americans Continue to Pay More for Health Care

As the U.S. Senate attempts to pass a health care reform bill by the end of the week, new data shows more Americans are paying higher out-of-pocket expenses at the doctor's office.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of Americans in employer-baed high-deductible health care plans is up 50 percent since 2011, meaning more of us are paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket before our plan even kicks in.

“It really depends widely from state-to-state and plan-to-plan, there's no actual number you can say,” says Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute.  “But we can say the average deductible and out-of-pocket costs for an individual is around $6,000 and $12,000 for a family.”

“On average, I've seen numbers that suggest copayments and deductibles are about 50 percent higher than they were before the Affordable Care Act, although they were rising before that so you can't attribute all that to the ACA,” he says.

Tanner believes the only way to drive prices down is to give power back to consumers.

“Take that money your employer is taking out of your paycheck to pay for health insurance and give that money to you and let you decide on which insurance company, how much insurance you're going to buy, what doctor you're going to go to and let you do the negotiating,” he says.

But that also means a change in the tax code.

“Right now, your employer-provided health insurance is tax-free, but if they gave you that money then you would have to pay taxes on that and you would be worse off.”

In the meantime, Tanner suggests tailoring your current coverage to your needs, such as forgeoing a vision plan if you don't really use it.

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