Many of the most common health-related costs that Americans face increased over the course of 2015 or are set to increase in 2016. Premiums of health insurance plans offered through Affordable Care Act exchanges have increased 10.1 percent on average from 2016, according to a 2015 cost analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
For employer-provided plans, premiums rose 9 percent in 2015. On top of higher premiums, health insurance deductibles have risen six times faster than wages since 2010, reported The New York Times. The costs of prescription drug prices are also up this year after rising 10.4 percent in 2015, as calculated by the OneRx National Drug Index.
Americans need to be accounting for these increases in health care costs as they set their budgets for the year. GOBankingRates conducted a Google Consumer Survey to see whether Americans are anticipating and planning for higher health costs in 2016.
43 Percent of Americans Plan on Higher Health Costs This Year
GOBankingRates asked survey respondents, "How much do you expect to pay for health care in the next year?" specifying insurance, prescriptions, doctor visits and similar costs. Four options were provided in the following order:
- Less than the last year
- Same as the last year
- A little more than the last year
- A lot more than the last year
If you expect to pay more for health care in 2016, you’re in the majority. According to poll responses, 43 percent of Americans expect to pay more for health insurance this year: 23 percent of total respondents expect to pay “a little more than the last year,” and 20 percent expect to pay “a lot more.”
Despite rising health insurance premiums, deductibles and the cost of prescription drugs, however, many Americans don’t anticipate a matching increase in their 2016 health costs. The single most-chosen response overall is “same as the last year,” which was selected by 37 percent of total respondents. This is roughly twice the number of respondents who said they expect to pay less for health costs in 2016, which is just one in five people (20 percent).
Age Insights: Older Americans Expect to Pay More for Health Care
Respondents' expected health care costs correlated pretty closely to their age and life stage. Younger respondents are more likely to expect to pay the same or less for health costs in 2016, whereas older respondents are more likely to expect to pay more in 2016.
For instance, only about a third (34.7 percent) of young millennials ages 18 to 24 expect to pay more for health care in 2016 — including both those who plan to pay "a little more" and "a lot more" — compared with nearly half (48.7 percent) of seniors age 65 and up.
Answers of "a lot more" are fairly constant across age groups, with roughly one in five respondents of each age group selecting this answer over others. It seems that when it comes to significant increases in health care, age groups think similarly about how likely they are to be affected.
Millennials (ages 18 to 34) are nearly twice as likely as seniors to say that they expect to pay less in 2016, choosing this response around 23.9 percent of the time. Far fewer seniors (age 65 and up) expect that their health care costs will actually decrease in 2016, with just 14.0 percent selecting this response. Overall medical costs — and even Medicare premiums for some seniors — are increasing in 2016, but this trend won't be matched with a cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits that could help cover those extra costs, according to reports from multiple news outlets.
Women Expect Health Costs to Stay the Same, Men Plan on Changes
Between men and women, men are slightly more likely to expect their costs to increase in 2016: 45.0 percent of men say they expect to spend a little or a lot more on health costs compared to 41.8 percent of women.
Men are also more likely to project lower costs, however, with 21.6 percent of men selecting this answer versus 18.5 percent of women. Overall, women seem to expect health costs to remain more constant in 2016, with 39.8 percent saying they expect to pay the "same as the last year" compared with just a third of men (33.4 percent) who selected the same answer.
Before the ACA went into effect in 2014, women often faced higher health care costs than men, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Health insurers previously could charge women higher premiums than men for the same amount of coverage, a pricing practice that is now illegal under the ACA.
Women also now have more coverage for care they previously would have paid more for out of pocket, such as mammograms or birth control, and insurers have to provide coverage despite pre-existing conditions like pregnancy. With the effects of the ACA still unfolding, it could be that women are finally seeing their health costs plateau and men's health costs are simply catching up.
Expectations for 2016 Health Care Costs by State
Health care costs can vary greatly by state based on local variations in market price, implementation of state health laws, as well as state participation in Medicaid expansion and other factors. A 2016 study from GOBankingRates compared typical health insurance costs of plans purchased through ACA exchanges and found that monthly premiums differed by as much as $185 from state to state. Residents in the state with the lowest insurance costs, New Mexico, pay half as much as those living in New York, the state with the most expensive insurance.
Expectations for health costs in 2016 also differed from state to state. For a majority of states (39 of 50), residents are most likely to expect costs to stay the same in 2016 as what they paid in the last year. Residents of 12 states expect their costs to increase in 2016 (including both "a lot more" and "a little more" responses). Only three states expect health costs to decrease in 2016: Hawaii, Iowa and Oklahoma.
Here's how states' expectations of 2016 health costs match up with their ranking for health insurance costs.