Private health insurance in the United States protects most of the population against the risk of high medical care spending, but the extent of that protection has been declining for at least a decade. The reason for the decline appears to be no mystery: overall health insurance premiums for given coverage have been rising rapidly while consumer incomes have been near stagnant; consumers with little more to spend are increasingly reluctant to spend it on something with a rapidly growing price. But this simple story of prices growing relative to incomes is not quite right, and one piece of evidence arguing for a more nuanced approach is the well-known, widely varying susceptibility to this problem across the population.
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