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According to a new study, Americans who pay for their own health insurance could spend nearly $700,000 on health care over their adult lives.

That’s more than double what Americans with employer-sponsored insurance would pay — about $320,000 — which is an incredibly high figure on its own.

Synchrony released a new study on the lifetime costs of health care in the United States on Monday, analyzing how much policyholders are likely to spend on insurance and treatment.

The financial services company calculated estimates of lifetime health care costs by adding together the amounts Americans are likely to spend over the years on premiums, copays, prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and coinsurance costs (the part medical bills that people pay after deductibles are met).

The calculations do not include the high costs some people incur to treat chronic illnesses, critical illnesses or elective procedures.

People with employer-sponsored health insurance are expected to spend an average of $3,180 a year in monthly premiums, $1,310 in out-of-pocket costs and $776 in coinsurance, Synchrony reports.

Over 61 years – the adult life of someone who lives to be 79 – that’s $321,226. According to Synchrony, inflation is not factored into its estimates, so the actual costs people will face in the future are likely to be much higher.

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Health care costs are higher than Americans think

Health insurance premiums are expected to rise in 2023, potentially by a larger amount than in previous years, according to a recent report by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. This year, for people with employer-sponsored health insurance, families spend an average of $6,106 in annual fees and singles spend an average of $1,327, according to Kaiser.

The Synchrony survey of about 3,200 respondents found that Americans don’t expect to spend as much money on healthcare expenses as they actually do. When it comes to personal expenses, for example, actual expenses are 145% higher than people think.

The company’s study breaks down average annual average outlays for people with employer-sponsored health insurance by subcategory:

  • ER visits: $127
  • Urgent care visits: $74
  • Specialist visits: $151
  • Primary care visits: $183
  • Durable medical equipment: $112
  • Over-the-counter medications: $239
  • Prescription drugs: $424

Only a fraction of Americans set aside enough money to pay for these health care costs. Less than half of respondents in the Synchrony study say they save for future health care costs, and only 55% of those who save think they put enough money aside. On average, Americans save about $200 a month for health care, according to the study.

“There is a significant gap between people’s perceptions and the reality of healthcare costs,” Alberto Casellas, general manager of health and wellness at Synchrony, said in a press release. “Consumers today are saving money for college or a mortgage, but not for health care.”

The survey also shows that young people are much more likely to skip a doctor’s visit or treatment if it costs too much. Half of respondents born after 1964 say they would withhold elective medical care if it cost between $500 and $999, while a third of older Americans say they would.

High health care costs and a lack of savings deter many Americans from getting certain treatments, Synchrony found. More than a quarter of respondents say they have delayed a recommended procedure because of cost, and 46% of those say the wait has led to other medical issues.

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