Affordability papers

As policymakers grapple with reforming the state’s health care system, consumer advocates would like them to keep the consumers – and what they can afford to pay — in mind. Health Access is releasing two papers today to assist policymakers in thinking through that issue, showing specifically how proposals would affect middle-income and low-income families.

The first report, titled “Affordability and Health Care. What can Consumers Afford?,’’ shows that as they are currently fashioned, if either AB8 or the Governor’s proposal were to become law, low-income Californians could face spending up to one-third of their annual income on health costs.

The reason? Cost-sharing, deductibles and co-pays layered on top of deductibles would push costs for health care beyond what families could afford. While Health Access has appreciated the debates around affordability, it is important to remember that health coverage needs to be affordable both to buy and to use. Currently, the proposals only consider whether health coverage is affordable to buy (low premiums) but not to use (high cost-sharing.)

The second report, titled “Thin Protections: High Deductible Plans Provide Little Comfort for Asset Poor Middle-Income Families” shows how middle-income Californians are already under siege financially and health coverage that provides little coverage does nothing to help and may even thrust a family into bankruptcy.

Health Access will be providing these reports to the Legislature and Governor and members of the media today. For reporters wishing to write stories on the issue, Health Access can also provide stories of Californians who have suffered from unaffordable health plans.

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