The Growing Financial Burden of Health Care: National and State Trends, 2001-2006

March 25, 2010
Health Affairs , Web First
Peter J. Cunningham

The financial burden of health care—the ratio of total out-ofpocket spending for health care services and premiums to total family income—continues to increase nationally. As a result of this trend, more people have been exposed to high costs and lack essential services. This study examines trends nationally and among selected states between 2001 and 2006. The results show considerable state-to-state variation associated mainly with differences in family income and, to a lesser extent, out-of-pocket spending for insurance premiums. Nationally, middle- and higher-income people with private insurance experienced the largest increases in financial burden. Moreover, almost 30 percent of the U.S. population either had a high financial burden of health costs or were uninsured. These facts underscore that escalating health care costs affect all socioeconomic strata, not just the poor.

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