What the Rising Cost of Healthcare Is Really Costing Your Family

July 18, 2016

Usually when we hear about the rising cost of healthcare from politicians and pundits, it’s all about vague generalities, big picture arguments, and — if we’re oh-so-lucky — some confusing cherry-picked statistics.

Those sound bites may get headlines, but they’re not very helpful. Everyone already knows that healthcare costs are rising.

Most of us just want to know one thing: how will rising costs affect my wallet?

The NCCFH is here to help. Lucky for us (and you!), there’s a thing called the Milliman Medical Index (MMI). It’s a yearly report that breaks down the average total annual cost for a typical family of four with employer-provided insurance coverage. (Check it out here. It’s a real page-turner.)

As a loyal NCCFH reader, you probably won’t be shocked to find out that the total annual healthcare cost for an NC family of four in 2015 was an astonishingly high $24,671.

(On the other hand, if you haven’t visited our website before...well, welcome to being shocked. And get used to it, because it’s our mission to bring you the appalling reality of rising healthcare costs in NC.)

What Do the Numbers Mean?

Let’s look at this from a different angle: Say you have two kids in middle school. 10 years ago, when your kids were still tiny humans and you were elbow-deep in dirty diapers, your average healthcare costs were $12,214 according to the MMI. So in 10 years, the cost of healthcare has doubled. But while that’s been happening, NC incomes have stagnated and your family certainly hasn’t shrunk. (Neither have the kids’ appetites!). So that increase is one heck of a burden on your family. Where is the extra money coming from?

Families across North Carolina are in this position. Even in just this past year, average costs have increased 6.3% from the previous year. In actual dollars, that’s $1,456. (Or, as we’ve pointed out before, more than a pony! You’ll see.)

Thankfully (for you), not all of that money is coming out of your pocket. It’s split between you and your employer. According to the MMI, employers shoulder 57% of the financial burden of healthcare costs, which prevents them from giving out raises, hiring more workers, or getting that Margarita machine for casual Fridays. (They may be able to spring for an optional Hawaiian shirt or two, though. You know you want one. Don’t lie.)

Your share? The remaining 43%, for a total of $626.08.

What Could You Do with All That $$?

Wondering what you could have bought with that cash? We were wondering too. So we researched it for you. Here’s a top-10 list of what your healthcare money could have bought this year.

  1. LG 55-inch 1080p Smart LED TV (Amazon, $547.00). If you’re going to watch politicians talk healthcare, at least do it in stunning high definition.
  2. 11-game Carolina Hurricanes season ticket package for two ($577). With enough money left over for one adult beverage per game, eh?
  3. 4-night cruise for two to the Bahamas out of Charleston (cruises.com, $508). Want to splurge for the ocean-view room? You’ve got it in the budget.
  4. 2016-17 season passes for two at Durham Performing Arts Center ($491.52). Might be the upper level, but just being in the building is enough for date nights away from the kids.
  5. Membership for the whole family at the Museum of Life & Science in Durham ($155). This one is a no-brainer for the whole family. Come on! Lemurs!! Or, better yet, double it up with...
  6. 2016-17 season passes for two at Durham Performing Arts Center AND membership for the whole family at the Museum of Life & Science ($491.52 + $155 = $646.52). You can find that extra Harriet Tubman in just 14 days by following our handy guide to saving $10 a day!
  7. 4 HP Chromebook laptops (Amazon, $156 each, or $624 total). You get a laptop! You get a laptop! EVERYONE! GETS! A! LAPTOP!
  8. 4 tickets to the Carolina Panthers Home Opener (starting at $89 on secondary markets). Take the family to see the defending NFC Champs unveil their Conference Championship banner, with plenty left over for parking, gas, and unhealthy snacks.
  9. One-year membership at Massage Envy ($719.88). OK, so this one is a little over budget, but a massage every month for a whole year? Come on, you know you deserve it.
  10. Finally, take a vacation! Here are 5 NC vacations for under $500.

You get the point: that money could’ve gone a long way for you. And helped our state economy, to boot.

How would you have spent your $626.08? Tell us in the comments section below, and join us to raise awareness about rising healthcare costs.

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