Stories by Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation

Health care spending is more than just the parts you see

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

People focus on the health costs that are most tangible and sometimes outrageous to them: their deductibles, and drug costs, and surprise medical bills, and the annual increase in the share of the premium they pay. But there's more that gets less attention because it's not as visible to them.

Why it matters: To really understand how Medicare for All or any other big change in health care financing would affect them, people need to understand how they would impact their overall family health budgets. Few people think about the other health costs they pay: their taxes to support health care, or what their employers are paying towards premiums (which is depressing their wages).

The quiet, steady rise of employer health coverage

Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

After many years of steady decline, the proportion of people under 65 with employer health coverage has started to increase. About seven million more people gained employer coverage between 2013 and 2017 — nearly as many as the 10 million people who were covered through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace last year.

Why it matters: Since people with employer coverage are the largest insured group in the country, the next wave of health reform will be more politically successful if it resonates with their concerns.

The detail that could make Medicare for All generous — and expensive

Adapted from a Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker chart. Spending is in purchasing power parity equivalents. Chart: Axios Visuals

Now that the Democrats have taken control of the House, their "Medicare for All" proposals are going to get hearings and scrutiny. One feature of Bernie Sanders' version that hasn't gotten a lot of attention yet, but it will: the plan has no deductibles or other forms of patient cost-sharing.

Why it matters: In a country where so many Americans are bedeviled by medical bills, especially people who are sick and use a lot of medical care, this would be a big deal. It would actually make our system more generous than any of the other developed nations that Democrats like to cite as models for our own.

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