Out-of-pocket health care costs are growing at an "alarming rate," and the poor are getting hit the hardest, according to a study released this week.
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions analysis, titled "The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care," found that only about 40 percent of health costs are covered under a private or public insurance plan. The 13 percent out-of-pocket cost continues to rise, Deloitte found, and low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes are the most affected.
"What strikes me about the data is this: what consumers spend on health care out of pocket is an enormous part of household economics," Paul Keckley, executive director of the center, wrote in a blog on Monday. "For those without insurance coverage, it's significant and especially burdensome if they take care of a family member or friend. And for those with insurance, it's perhaps more burdensome as many do not qualify for government-financed services and face higher premiums, copays and deductibles."
Here are some other highlights of the study:
- U.S. health care costs totaled about $3.2 trillion in 2010. That's 23.9 percent higher than reported by the National Health Expenditures Accounts run by the feds, and amounts to a per capita spending of $10,392.
- Consumers are spending more on alternative and nontraditional health services, some as an alternative to more costly medications or doctor visits, Deloitte found.
- About 60 percent of health dollars were spent on what's considered "necessary" expenditures — professional care ($829 billion), hospital care ($814 billion) and prescriptions ($259 billion).
- The other 40 percent was spent on long-term care, retail products, supervisory care and direct administrative costs.