Kaiser Study: Deductibles under Obamacare rising seven times faster than inflation

We all remember the promise – President Obama famously told us time and time again that ObamaCare would lower health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year for families. But unless you’re receiving a giant subsidy from the government for your insurance, you’re not paying less in premiums, in fact, for employer sponsored plans, premiums have risen nearly $5,000 since Obama promised to cut them.  What about deductibles?  They haven’t decreased either. But don’t just take my word for it.


A new survey finds that in 2015 deductibles on employer-provided health plans actually rose by almost nine percent.

According to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, the increase brings the average deductible that workers must pay for their health insurance plans to $1,077; more than triple what it was a decade ago. As reported in the L.A. Times, “That is seven times faster than wages have risen in the same period.”

Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman said, “It’s a quiet revolution. When deductibles are rising seven times faster than wages … it means that people can’t pay their rent. … They can’t buy their gas. They can’t eat.”

As a comparison, “workers’ wages increased 1.9% between April 2014 and April 2015, according to federal data analyzed by the report’s authors.”

The news is also bad for family plans as, the “average family plan cost workers $4,955, up 3% from last year.”

This is a significant problem for families trying to make ends meet.

Employers’ rising health costs are often singled out as a cause for stagnant wage growth in recent years, as businesses have put money into health benefits that might otherwise have gone to workers’ paychecks.

There is also growing evidence that the steep rise in deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays are preventing workers from benefiting from the overall slowdown in healthcare cost growth.


Even the left acknowledges that workers are getting the short end of the stick, saying that workers are having the higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs passed on to them from their employers.

Unaffordable deductibles are also emerging as a major issue for health plans being sold on marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. The marketplaces, now in their second year, were designed to help people who don’t get health plans through an employer.

Most of the nearly 10 million people in marketplace plans qualify for subsidies to offset their premiums, but deductibles in many plans are thousands of dollars.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the largest state marketplace in the country told the L.A. Times that “Deductibles are a big problem for consumers.” He’s right. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “The average deductible for a silver plan on marketplaces nationwide this year is more than $2,500.”

If you’re already paying a couple of hundred dollars a month for your mandated health insurance and have a large deductible, you could be out nearly $5,000 before your insurance even kicks in.  If you couldn’t afford insurance before ObamaCare, this likely isn’t affordable either. At least before ObamaCare, high deductible policies had low monthly costs, and a wise consumer could save the money they weren’t spending on high premiums. But those plans aren’t ACA compliant and are no longer available.


With many companies subject to the upcoming “Cadillac Tax,” in 2018, the health care costs for American workers are likely to continue rising. The promised $2,500 savings is nowhere in sight and this latest survey once again shows that the “Affordable Care Act” has made health insurance more unaffordable than before.


Kristina Ribali is the Senior Coalitions Director for The Foundation for Government Accountability.  Follow her on Twitter or reach her by email at [email protected].

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