Last year, when healthcare costs for the typical American family of four exceeded $20,000 for the first time, the Milliman Medical Index (MMI) compared the cost of a family’s healthcare to the cost of an average midsize sedan. This year, with costs exceeding $22,000 ($22,030), we note that healthcare costs for our family of four are almost as much as the cost of attending an in-state public college ($22,261) for the current academic year. Or, for those looking for an alternative to college, $22,000 will also buy you a Scooby Doo “Mystery Machine” van.
The total share of this cost borne directly by the family—$9,144 in payroll deductions and out-of-pocket costs—now exceeds the cost of groceries for the MMI’s typical family of four. The out-of-pocket cost alone—$3,600 for co-pays, coinsurance, and other cost sharing—is more than the average U.S. household spends on gas in a year.
Taking the comparisons even further, the Health Populi blog offered this menu:
If you have $22,030 in your wallet, you can buy:
- A princess-cut diamond
- A Ford Focus 4-door
- A year’s tuition at James Madison University (in-state, 2013-14)
- A health plan for a family of four.
The 2013 Milliman Medical Index gauges the annual health care costs for a typical American family at $22,030, up $1,302 from 2012 — a 6.3% increase, nearly 6x the all-items increase of 1.1% for the U.S. Consumer Price Index from April 2012-April 2013. That 1.1% includes the costs of food and energy, along with cars, tobacco, shelter, and other consumer goods.
Whether our family fully realizes the degree to which total healthcare costs eclipse so many other household costs is another question. Because the employer pays a significant share of our typical family’s healthcare costs, some of these costs are not visible in the family budget. But for four of the last five years, our family has seen a larger percentage increase in costs than the employer. Our typical family is well aware of the increasing cost of care, even if it is only responsible for paying 41 cents of every healthcare dollar.