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(HealthDay News) — From 2007 to 2019, there was an increase in inflation-adjusted healthcare spending, largely due to increasing contributions to premiums, according to a research letter published online May 28 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Sukruth A. Shashikumar, MD, from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study using 2007 to 2019 Medicare Expenditure Panel Survey data for respondents and family members younger than 65 years with private insurance to understand changes in the financial burden of healthcare. Families’ total healthcare spending was calculated as a contribution of premiums plus out-of-pocket medical and prescription drug spending; annual financial medical burden was assessed by dividing their total health care spending by postsubsistence income.

The unweighted sample included 96,075 families and the mean annual weighed population included 83,523,039 families. The researchers observed an increase in inflation-adjusted mean total healthcare spending from $3,920 to $4,907, mainly due to an increase in contributions to premiums. The financial medical burden was 8.4 and 9.8% of postsubsistence income in 2007 and 2019, respectively. Mean total healthcare spending was $3,163 and $3,247 in 2007 and 2019, respectively, for low-income families, and their medical burden was 23.5 and 26.4%, respectively. Among higher-income families, the corresponding mean total healthcare spending was $4,071 and $5,239 and medical burden was 5.4 and 6.5% in 2007 and 2019.

“Our findings highlight the need to strengthen financial safeguards for low-income families,” the authors write.

One author disclosed ties to a health insurance company; a second author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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