health spending
health spending

Report: Virginian’s out-of-pocket costs for health insurance continue to surge

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A new report on health care costs and spending data in the Commonwealth shows that while Virginians spend less on health care than the national average, their out-of-pocket costs for health insurance premiums and deductibles continue to surge year-after-year.

The Altarum Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and consulting organization, examined 2021 Virginia health care spending based on data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Virginia’s All-Payer Claims Database and other public sources.

The analysis shows that the average single health insurance premium was $7,300 and the average family health insurance premium was $21,300 for people with private sector employer-sponsored health care coverage.

According to the Altarum report, these rates are “nearly identical to national averages, despite Virginia’s lower-than-average per capita health care spending.”

Growth in Virginia insurance premiums has steadily increased, increasing from “22.5 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively, between 2015 and 2021, while combined premiums and deductible totals have increased even faster (31.1 percent for single coverage and 27.7 percent for family coverage).”

Looking over a longer horizon, the report finds that since 2008 “single annual premiums have increased 74.3 percent, and family premiums have increased 78.9 percent,” while the “combined totals of average premiums and deductibles have risen even faster, 89.1 percent for single coverage and 91.3 percent for family coverage.”

The sharp increase in premium and out-of-pocket costs is also “significantly greater than the underlying private per-enrollee health care spending trend, which has increased by 45.7 percent over the same period.”

These trends are even more glaring when viewed in context of the COVID-19 pandemic peak period of 2020 and 2021 when health insurance premiums and cost-sharing expenses for individuals and families continued to rise despite a sharp drop in health care utilization and health care spending .

In contrast to

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Bulgaria’s high out-of-pocket payments for health care undermines progress towards universal health coverage

Bulgaria has a high incidence of catastrophic health spending compared to other European countries. A new report by WHO/Europe launched today at the Bulgarian parliament reveals that in 2018, 1 in 5 households incurred out-of-pocket payments that exceeded their capacity to pay for health care by at least 40%. Catastrophic health spending may mean a household can no longer afford to meet other basic needs, such as food, housing and electricity.

People paying out of pocket for outpatient medicines is the main driver of catastrophic health spending in Bulgaria. This kind of spending affects poorer households, older people and people living in rural areas the most, and it has increased over time, notes the new report ‘Can people afford to pay for health care? New evidence on financial protection in Bulgaria’.

Although the country has made progress in some areas, out-of-pocket payments accounted for 39% of spending on health in 2019, far above the European Union (EU) average of 21%, says the report.

“Bulgaria’s heavy reliance on out-of-pocket payments for health care is a challenge to universal health coverage – the idea that everyone should be able to use quality health services without experiencing financial hardship,” said Tamás Evetovits, Head of the WHO Barcelona Office for Health Systems Financing. “The report recommends focusing on ways to ensure the National Health Insurance Fund covers the whole population and that it makes exemptions for people who cannot afford to pay co-payments for medicines and other health services.”

“Bulgaria has taken concrete steps to improve access to health care and reduce financial hardship for people using health services, but important gaps in health coverage remain, particularly for households with low incomes,” said Antoniya Dimova, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health at Medical University-Varna and the report’s lead author.

“This new analysis

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