Healthcare spending accounts for nearly a quarter of household spending in Oregon, study finds

Health insurance schemes represent a large part of the costs that the state hopes to control.

(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Health care costs make up nearly a quarter of household spending in Oregon, according to a new report from the Oregon Health Authority.

The report, released this week, says that at 23% of spending, health care is the biggest household expense for Oregonians, followed by housing, utilities and fuel.

Insurance premiums and deductibles, which consumers must pay before their plans begin, are part of the cost. Premiums are so high in Oregon that for households with a corporate package, they’re approaching the average cost of a new compact car — $21,000.

The report is the first of its kind in Oregon and is part of the state’s efforts to curb skyrocketing health care costs. These expenses are affecting hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, forcing households to skimp on other expenses and deplete their savings, with some going into debt and going bankrupt.

The state also releases price hikes for new drugs to publicly shame companies that charge six- and even seven-figure sums for new products. Despite industry opposition, the legislature has tasked the health authority with overseeing corporate mergers to ensure they don’t drive up costs.

The report found that health care costs are taxing the economy, burdening poorer communities, widening the equity gap and undermining personal finances.

Among the data:

-Premiums increased by 40% from 2013 to 2019 to approximately $3,600 per year.

– Oregonians spent more than the national average on health care in those same years.

-10% of Oregonians used up their savings in 2019 to pay for health care.

-60% of bankruptcies in 2019 included medical debt.

-Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Oregonians were three times more likely to report using savings on medical bills than white Oregonians.

“This report fleshes out with data a disturbing picture of the impacts of rising health care costs on Oregon families,” according to a statement from Jeremy Vandehey, director of the health policy and analysis division of the Oregon. Oregon Health Authority. “While we have long known that the rate of rising costs was unsustainable, Covid has shown us with startling relief how important access to affordable care is for families in Oregon. High costs not only lead to poor health outcomes, but they also cause real financial harm to Oregonians.

The report predicts no relief.

“Health care costs are expected to continue to rise in Oregon and nationally,” he said.

To stem skyrocketing health care costs, the state aims to keep annual rate increases at 3.4%. Other states — Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Washington and New Jersey — have similar programs, following Massachusetts, which led the way in 2012.

The challenge they face in reducing healthcare costs is ensuring continuity of quality care.

“We need to contain the growth in health care costs in a way that does not impact people’s health, the quality of health services, or exacerbate health inequalities,” Vandehey wrote.

The state will continue to monitor health care costs, producing an annual report. In 2026, insurers and service providers will be penalized if they do not meet the target rate.

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact the publisher Les Zaitz for any questions: [email protected] Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

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