Health care costs to surpass total income?
March 14th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Health care costs to surpass total income?

Take a close look at the chart up above. It’s taken from a new paper, in the Annals of Family Medicine. If you believe the doctors who put it together, it tells one of the scariest stories you’ll ever hear.

The gentle upward slope represents the median income for an American family, projected through 2035. The lighter colored curve is projected average spending on health care - insurance premiums, and out of pocket costs.

With current trends, the authors say, in less than 20 years the average family will face medical costs that are higher than their total income. All of it.

Dr. Jennifer DeVoe, one of the authors, says she already sees the strain in her practice at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.

“I see people who don’t eat, or don’t pay rent, so they can pay medical bills,” she says. “They can’t afford their medication, or in some cases, even a mammogram.”

The basic facts aren’t new. Health care costs have been growing faster than inflation since the government began to track them in the 1960s. Between 2000 and 2009, the paper says, the average annual increase in insurance premiums was 8%, while household income rose an average of 2.1%.

But some experts say the doom and gloom is overblown. J.D. Kleinke, who last month wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The Myth of Runaway Spending,” points out that growth in health spending has been moving closer to the overall inflation rate, for the past decade.  He says the slowdown came because insurers and private companies introduced plans with higher deductibles and bigger co-pays at the same time the government introduced health savings accounts, where individuals can get a tax break to help pay for medical expenses.

“In the old days, people never questioned cost because they were basically given a blank check,” says Kleinke. “Industry figured it out and said, 'This is madness.' ”

DeVoe acknowledges the trend, but says what strikes her first, “is that these costs are still increasing.”

Whether you see health spending as a crisis, depends, in part, on your focus.

In 2009 and 2010, total spending on health care grew at a slower rate – 3.8% and 3.9%, respectively – than at any time on record. But even that outstripped inflation –  1.6% in 2010, and a negative 0.3% the year before.

At the same time, a larger share of the cost is being borne by individual families. According to a survey last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation, premiums for family health insurance plans rose 9%.

To Kleinke, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, shifting the burden is good and necessary.

“Because people feel the economic pain directly, they’ve actually changed behavior, and spending did start to come down.”

A wild card in all this is the Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare.” Critics say expanding health insurance to cover another 30 million people will send costs through the roof. But ACA supporters point to provisions meant to slow or reverse the growth in spending - especially an emphasis on preventive care, which is supposed to reduce the need for expensive hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

DeVoe says the ACA is a “great first step, but it’s not enough to get us where we need to go in terms of sustainability.”

Co-author Dr. Richard Young, who runs the country’s largest family practice training program, at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, points out that the new federal “comparative effectiveness” program - meant to compare the benefits of different treatments - is explicitly forbidden from considering cost, just as Medicare is forbidden from denying any “medically necessary” treatment, no matter how high the cost, or how small the medical benefit.

Young put it bluntly in an interview: “Until we’re willing to say 'no' to somebody, anybody, there is nothing to stop this inflationary pressure.”

Asked if the analysis isn’t deeply pessimistic, he said: “That’s right.”

soundoff (972 Responses)
  1. canadian diet pills

    canadian pills pharmacy https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pills online

    April 23, 2021 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. homes for sale bayview id

    You're so interesting! I don't suppose I have read through something like this before. So good to find another person with genuine thoughts on this subject. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!


    April 24, 2021 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Headlights Near Me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the site is also very good.


    April 24, 2021 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Forklift Rental Near Me


    April 24, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. alprostadil suppository for sale

    alprostadil injection site https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil suppository demonstration video

    April 24, 2021 at 04:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Esther Farzan

    Our program is FREE to join


    April 24, 2021 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Proxy Reseller

    Rattling nice layout and great articles, nothing at all else we need : D.


    April 24, 2021 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. box truck body repair


    April 25, 2021 at 04:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Toilets Los Angeles

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be exciting to read articles from other authors and use a little something from other web sites.


    April 25, 2021 at 05:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. sildenafil 5343

    sildenafil 50 mg online https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil brand name in india

    April 26, 2021 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. realtor spirit lake id

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful. Thank you for sharing!


    April 27, 2021 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. cvs erectile products

    compare erectile dysfunction medicines https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ ace inhibitors erectile dysfunction

    April 30, 2021 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. average perscription pills taken by 65 year old canadian?

    canadian pharmacies ed pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian weight loss pills

    May 1, 2021 at 21:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Librada Laite

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a really good article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and never seem to get anything done.


    May 2, 2021 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. nba home jerseys

    Hello there! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after browsing through
    some of the post I realized it's new to me. Anyways, I'm
    definitely delighted I found it and I'll be bookmarking and checking back often!

    May 4, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. aika private server files download


    May 4, 2021 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. executive training

    This excellent website really has all of the info I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 4, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. journaling group

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 4, 2021 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. semi trailer repair shop near me


    May 4, 2021 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Furniture Near Me


    May 4, 2021 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. nearest truck repair near me


    May 4, 2021 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. meditation training


    May 4, 2021 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Eye Appointment Near Me

    I really like it when folks get together and share thoughts. Great blog, keep it up!


    May 5, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Bedroom California


    May 5, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. international truck


    May 5, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. aika online download

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who was doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me dinner because I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this matter here on your blog.


    May 5, 2021 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. lifestyle training

    Hi there! This post could not be written much better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I will forward this information to him. Pretty sure he's going to have a great read. Thanks for sharing!


    May 5, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. mack box truck


    May 5, 2021 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Corneal Refractive Therapy


    May 6, 2021 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. semi trailer repair


    May 6, 2021 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. hikes near me


    May 6, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. dermatologist near me

    Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a great article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get anything done.


    May 6, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. frame repair shop near me

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who was doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch simply because I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this subject here on your internet site.


    May 6, 2021 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Forklift Service Orange County

    Hey there! I simply would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great info you have got here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.


    May 6, 2021 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. 3 Gallon Kegs

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It's always helpful to read articles from other writers and practice a little something from other sites.


    May 6, 2021 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. New Forklift For Sale California

    This is the perfect site for anyone who wishes to find out about this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic which has been written about for decades. Great stuff, just great!


    May 7, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. veterinarian near me


    May 7, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. tow truck repair


    May 7, 2021 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Forklift Service Shop Near Me


    May 7, 2021 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. fake rolex datejust

    151999 996847I think other web site owners should take this website as an model, very clean and superb user genial design and style . 56199

    May 7, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Used Forklifts


    May 7, 2021 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. New Forklift Repair California

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be helpful to read articles from other writers and practice a little something from their websites.


    May 7, 2021 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. minute clinic near me


    May 7, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. hidroxicloroquina

    cloraquinn https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine phosphate tablet

    May 7, 2021 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. rv tire installation near me

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!


    May 7, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. replica watches

    394733 754133Pretty part of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I get actually loved account your weblog posts. Any way Ill be subscribing on your feeds or even I success you access constantly fast. 330733

    May 7, 2021 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Digital Marketing Programs


    May 7, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. california coach towing orange


    May 7, 2021 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Digital Marketing Pro

    Howdy! This post could not be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I will send this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!


    May 8, 2021 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Digital Marketing Near Me


    May 8, 2021 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Leave a Reply to health insurance


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.