High Deductible Plans Force Families to Delay Care

A new study has been released that looks at the effect of high deductible health care plans on families with a member that has a chronic condition. The report found that families were more likely to delay care for both adults and children under a high deductible plan compared to a traditional plan. Adults and children under a high deductible plan had a 40% chance of delaying or skipping care, compared to 15% in a traditional plan. Lower income families were even more likely to report delayed care for both children and adults.

The study looked at how families budget their health spending when a member needed care for a chronic condition, such as asthma or diabetes. Families in which a child has a chronic condition were likely to see the adults delay or skip care. The opposite was true in families where an adult had the chronic condition. Those families were more likely to delay or skip care for their children to save money.

This points to a problem with high deductible health plans. If high out-of-pocket costs are forcing families to skip necessary care or preventive services, especially for children, any savings will be only temporary. Adults that have put off needed care and children that have skipped preventative services will require costlier health care services down the road. Conditions that could have been treated cheaply if caught early can escalate and result in more surgeries, emergency room visits, or expensive procedures. This is especially true for those with chronic conditions, for whom proper maintenance can lead to significant cost savings and improved quality of life.

-- Journal of General Internal Medicine / Washington Post / CWA Union Health Care Blog / CWA Union Health Care Blog