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Health Care Costs Rise for Jobless Americans

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Millions of Americans have been suffering from near double-digit unemployment—averaging at about 9.5 percent—for more than a year; unfortunately now news is coming to light that these very same jobless Americans are paying more than most when suffering from an illness, injury or basic medical conditions or assistance.

According to a recent report by The Huffington Post’s Laura Bassett, the average cost of health care plans for jobless Americans is steadily increasing. “Terminated workers are paying an average of $429 a month this year for individual HMO coverage, compared to $399 for the same coverage in 2009, according to a survey conducted by Aon Consulting. COBRA coverage for an entire family now costs an average of $1,251, up from $1,171 per month at this time last year. With COBRA costs on the rise and the average unemployment check totaling less than $300 a week, a growing number of jobless Americans are no longer able to afford their health insurance plans.”

The cause of these exorbitant COBRA costs is overuse: too many people turning to the system in too-tough economic times. "The increased frequency and duration of COBRA use is creating a significant strain on the program, leading to higher costs," John Zern, executive vice president and Health & Benefits Practice director with Aon Consulting told HuffPost. "Those who are unemployed, and facing uncertainty about employment prospects and future COBRA availability, are utilizing the program more than we've traditionally seen to treat a variety of conditions prior to potentially losing coverage."

As a result of these costs and uncertainties, laid off workers are struggling to afford COBRA with dwindling cash in their coffers. This sad scenario is made worse by when these same jobless Americans are found to suffer from preexisting conditions.  These year-to-year increases come as the Obama administration ramps up their new health care reforms—reforms many of the aforementioned Americans are finding difficult to qualify for. HuffPost's Arthur Delaney recently reported that “only 1,200 people have been approved so far for the government’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, whose steep premiums ranging from $140 to $900 a month make it no more affordable than COBRA for many unemployed Americans.”

To makes matters worse, even if you do find work in this anemic job market, you could face higher health care costs as well. Employed Americans can also anticipate employees their employer-subsidized plans to become more expensive in the next couple of years as employers shift the added expenses over to their workers.  According to HuffPost, “65 percent of employers plan to increase cost-sharing in 2011 for deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket maximums, and 57 percent of companies polled said they will ask employees to contribute more for the overall cost of health care next year.”

In some cases, to take better care of their health care costs, many folks are missing mortgage payments, neglecting their car notes, and fudging on their credit card bills. But there is a better way. Whether you choose bankruptcy to dispense with unsecured debts keeping you from better medical care, or file a medical bankruptcy to alleviate the financial pain and suffering caused by an unexpected health care emergency, or both, the result is a clean slate that will help you better deal with these tough economic times—in sickness, and in health.

In a tough health care situation, especially one coupled with unemployment, contacting a qualified bankruptcy attorney can help you regain control of your family budget, conquer creditors and get back on a better budgetary track—yielding all with the right kinds of support, information and insights for a more fair financial future. The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.

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