Lower and middle-income people were hit especially hard by high deductibles — the amount that must be paid before insurers will pay a claim — and other expenses that come straight from their wallets.
Among those who passed up care, 15 percent went without tests or followups, 14 percent passed on prescription drugs and 12 percent gave up medical care.
Government officials say more than 16 million Americans have gained coverage from the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions, although some have complained that consumers still face prohibitive costs.
“Simply having health insurance is no guarantee that consumers can afford to pay for health care,” the study says. “Health insurance involves different types of costs that consumers must pay out of pocket — ranging from a health plan’s deductible to co-payments at a doctor’s office. These expenses add up, and research has shown that even nominal cost-sharing can deter people from getting needed care.”
Among those with lower to middle-incomes — $16,200 to $29,199 as an individual, or from $27,400 to $49,499 for a family of three — more than a third reported going without care because it was too expensive.
About two of every five people with middle-to-higher incomes — $29,200 to $46,699 for an individual, or $49,500 to $79,199 for family of three — went without care.
“Proponents of high deductibles argue that because high-deductible plans require consumers to pay more of their medical costs up front, these plans give consumers an incentive to use health care more wisely,” the study said. “However, our findings and previous research tell a different and more troubling story: High deductibles are associated with consumers having difficulty getting the care they need.”