The True Price of Health Care Costs

We have written extensively about health care challenges faced by rural Americans. Among the challenges is dependence by many on a very expensive system that provides minimal coverage. Now a survey of over 2,000 non-corporate farmers and ranchers in the Midwest finds:
54 percent of farm and ranch households spent more than 10 percent of their income on health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses. Those with private insurance likely spend twice as much as those with employee insurance.
Health care costs contributed to financial problems for a quarter of households, higher for those with farming or ranching as their principal occupation.
These households spent an average of 42 percent of their income on health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. As a result, significant numbers delayed improvements to the farm or ranch and paying off loans.
Over a quarter of households drew on family resources and assets to pay health care costs, including family savings, credit cards, bank loans and retirement accounts. Families are using important assets or incurring larger debt to pay for basic health care needs and putting their financial futures at risk.
These findings reflect the unique rural health care challenges faced by rural people, challenges that Congress and the new administration must understand as they prepare to debate reforming the nation's health care system.
Find the Access Project survey, Who Experiences Financial Hardship Because of Health Care Costs?, through our website at  

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