This increase follows a period of comparatively slow growth in health care costs, sometimes attributed to changes in plan design that shifted costs onto the backs of consumers. For persons used to being covered by generous corporate health plans, the increased financial bite that resulted from these benefit changes had an impact on services utilization. About one-third of Americans now report that they have delayed some aspect of medical care because of the cost impact.
As someone who has had to directly pay the bills to the insurer for all of the years that I've been in business, the impact has always been quite clear. I've always been stunned to hear some reasonably intelligent and aware employees claim that the total cost of their health care was only their co-pay or their contribution to the monthly premium. These changes in plan design are making that fact a bit clearer for all concerned.