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Americans Rank Health Care as Top Financial Burden

Brianna Ehley

It’s been nearly five years since the Affordable Care Act was passed expanding coverage to more than 10 million Americans. Despite the law’s handful of provisions aimed at curbing medical costs, Americans still rank health care as the top financial problem plaguing their bottom lines. 

That’s according to a new Gallup poll that asked Americans to rank their biggest financial concerns. Health care and low wages topped the list—beating out unemployment and gas prices. 

Related: Why Medical Debt is Soaring Out of Control

“Americans have consistently cited healthcare, a topic of fierce debate this decade, as one of the most important financial problems, and it remains so,” Gallup’s Art Swift wrote in a blog post.

The poll’s findings are just the latest indication that the health care law still has a long way to go in making care more affordable. Last week, the Commonwealth Fund released a study revealing that 66 million adults have delayed or put off medical treatment for cost reasons in the last 12 months.

The study also estimated that about 64 million people had difficulty paying their medical bills over that same period.

Similarly, An earlier Gallup poll found that one in three Americans have delayed medical treatment in the last year because of costs. At the time, Gallup’s Rebecca Riffkin suggested that one reason people are putting off care is likely the shift to higher deductible policies and out-of-pocket costs—many of which are sold on Obamacare’s health exchanges.

Related: 64 Million Americans Still Can’t Afford Medical Care

The majority of policies sold on the state and federal exchanges are identified as high-deductible plans—with lower premiums but higher out of pocket costs. A HealthPocket study released in November found the average deductible for 2015 Bronze-level policies, the lowest tiered plan, is about $5,181 for individuals, while families who enroll in these plans have deductibles averaging about $10,500. 

Of course, the shift to higher deductibles and out of pocket costs is happening in employer-based plans as well.

A separate study from the Commonwealth Fund shows people with employer-based plans are paying more for coverage in every state.

The Commonwealth Fund’s report includes a state-by—state analysis revealing that the average deductible in 2013 for employer-based plans in most states exceeded $1,000.

Related: High Deductible Plans Have More People Delaying Treatment

Though the Obama administration has tried to expand access to affordable coverage through Obamacare, the law has not done enough to reduce the burden of rising health care costs. In fact, it could get even worse in the coming months for millions of Americans who rely on federal subsidies to afford their insurance policies if the Supreme Court rules against the administration in the case of King v. Burwell.

If that happens, 4.8 million Americans who purchased health coverage through the federal exchange will lose their subsidies—potentially forcing them out of their insurance policies.

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