Monday, July 11, 2016

Annual Healthcare Costs for Families Hit $25K



The data is in and it’s concerning: The annual healthcare costs for a family of four have hit $25K. According to the annual Milliman Medical Index analysis, this represents an increase of $1,155 over last year’s costs, and it is triple what healthcare costs were in 2001.

Even worse? It’s anticipated that family healthcare costs will rise another 4.7% this year alone. Although this is the lowest annual increase in 15 years, it is still taking a financial toll on today’s families. According to Chris Grod, co-author of the Milliman Medical Index, this is a “significant and somewhat unsettling milestone.”

Unsettling is right. What exactly does this data mean for you and your family? What can you do in light of these rising costs?

According to the report, the cause of increasing healthcare costs is due to two factors:
  1. A reduction in employer contributions
  2. A rise in prescription drug costs
Employers typically pay some portion of healthcare costs for full-time employees (usually it’s part of the annual healthcare premiums). As employers continue to find ways to shift increasing costs to employees, through higher deductibles, co-pays, and employee contributions, these healthcare costs escalate for employees and their families. Unfortunately, these costs aren’t rising in relation to salaries, leading to a larger population of underinsured people, those who have high deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses relative to their income. The uninsured are in a more challenging position, absorbing 100% of these costs and increases on their own.

And it’s not just the fees associated with insurance and doctor’s visits, it’s the actual prescriptions themselves that are rising in cost too. According to Milliman, prescription drug costs alone make up 17% of the average family’s healthcare costs, which equals an average of $4,270 annually.

These increases can be challenging to navigate. Here’s what you can do to help offset them:
  • Look for ways to lower your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. For instance, by using the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card on a consistent basis, you can start saving immediately on your prescription drug needs. If you don’t already have a card, you can easily download a free card by visiting https://familywize.org/prescription-savings-card/get-your-free-card/. You can also request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. Not interested in carrying the card with you? There’s an app (Apple and Android), available here.
  • Always ask your doctor for the lowest cost, most effective way to treat a health condition. In some cases, this may be ordering a generic form of medication, when available. Be your own advocate!
  • Use the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool to find the pharmacy in your area with the best price on your medication. 
  • Practice preventive medicine, which can help lower your family’s overall healthcare costs. Eat healthful meals, get adequate sleep, exercise, and alleviate stress to help keep your immune system strong. Managing chronic health conditions can help alleviate more complicated, and costly, health challenges.
  • Look to lower or alleviate costs in other areas to help offset your overall household increases. For instance, check out this post regarding the best couponing blogs for valuable information on saving on household expenses.
By understanding how these increases in healthcare costs affect you and your family and establishing ways to help defer these costs, you can still keep your family members healthy while enjoying the activities and lifestyle you desire.

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