The rising cost of health insurance and treatment has been a part of the national conversation for years now, especially since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And while that law has, in some ways, helped to slow the growth rates of these often necessary expenditures, the fact of the matter is that they're still on the rise. Consequently, many consumers now say they expect to pay at least a little bit more for their coverage in 2016.
Today, 43 percent of people nationwide say they believe they will pay at least a little more for their health insurance policies over the course of 2016 in comparison with last year, according to a new survey from the consumer finance site GOBankingRates.com. Of the group who say their costs will rise, more than half say that they're only going to pay a little more. However, the other 47 percent or so of those expecting increases believe that their costs will go up far more significantly.
What else can people expect?
But if only about 43 percent of all consumers say their rates are going to rise, that means roughly 57 percent will probably remain in good shape, the report said. Indeed, 37 percent say they don't think their costs will change at all, and 20 percent believe they're actually going to pay less. This is, of course, a big part of what the ACA was intended to do. It remains to be seen, however, whether the real world will differ from consumer expectations. The 57% who anticipate no change or an actual reduction may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
"Healthcare costs are definitely trending up and are likely to continue to do so as states continue to conform to standards set by the Affordable Care Act," said Elyssa Kirkham, the lead GOBankingRates reporter on the study. "With wages remaining relatively stagnant, higher prices on everything from health insurance premiums to prescription drugs will put pressure on Americans' budgets."
In addition to all this, it seems that the people most likely to expect an increase in their health care costs - at some 48.7 percent - are those aged 65 years old or more, the report said. Meanwhile, only 14 percent of those older Americans - who also tend to live on fixed incomes - say they expect their costs to decline.
Meanwhile, about 2 in 5 women said they expected their health insurance costs to remain the same, the report said. That outstripped the number of men - a little more than 1 in 3 - who felt the same way about their expenditures.
Finally, the three states most likely to have consumers expecting a reduction in their health insurance expenditures were Hawaii, Iowa, and Oklahoma, the report said. In all three states, more than half of respondents said they believed their health insurance costs were going to come down.
With all this in mind, insurers would be wise to communicate with their policyholders about the ins and outs of coverage and why costs may sometimes rise or fall. While people may not like paying more for their coverage, the fact that they will understand it better could go a long way.