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Emergency Physicians: 'Cadillac Tax' Leads Patients to Delaying Necessary Care

Photo courtesy the World Bank on Flickr

In a new poll, 70% of emergency physicians say that patients with health insurance are delaying seeking emergency medical care because of high deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance. Supporters of the so-called Cadillac Tax on expensive health care plans say increases in out-of-pocket requirements are a good thing that will lead to a decrease in unnecessary care. But research suggests the tax, which goes into effect in 2018 as part of the Affordable Care Act, also will result in people who are sick getting fewer health care services they need to get healthy or manage their illnesses.

In recent years, out-of-pocket expenses working people pay to use their health insurance have been increasing. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that “[s]ince 2010, both the share of workers with deductibles and the size of those deductibles have increased sharply. These two trends together result in a 67% increase in deductibles since 2010, much faster than the rise in single premiums (24%) and about seven times the rise in workers’ wages (10%) and general inflation (9%).” Because deductibles are increasing much faster than wages, patients aren't seeing the slowdown in health spending that has been in the news lately.

The survey of emergency physicians led to similar conclusions as other recent research. A new study published last week examined 75,000 people who switched from a health plan with no deductible to one with a $3,750 deductible. Patients in the study reduced health care across the board, both services they thought were necessary and those they thought were unnecessary.

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