Economists and policymakers are puzzling over how big an impact the Great Recession and its aftermath are having on reducing healthcare spending, whether the economic upswing will unleash pent-up demand for care, and whether the current lower spending is actually good for Americans' health.
New research shows that household health spending declined even among those with private insurance and medical needs. Out-of-pocket costs for children with special medical needs declined between 2007, when the recession began, and 2009, the year the recession officially ended, a newly published study in Health Affairs says.
The results underscore the growing financial strain faced by households from medical bills during the recession—and even before—as real wages stalled or declined and health plans required patients to pay more of the cost of care through larger deductibles and copayments, health policy experts said.
People have “less income to spend on healthcare and at the same time are being more exposed to the cost of healthcare,” said Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance with the Commonwealth Fund.