Banks could be winning loyal customers by rising to the challenge of soaring health costs

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“Most American banks and credit unions are pretty good at advising people about credit ratings, mortgage rates, credit cards and so on. But what about advising them on health costs?” I wrote in a piece over at BAI.org. “’That’s crazy,’ you might say. ‘Banks don’t have anything to do with health costs.’ But hear me out: They do. For many American families, health costs are the tiger lurking in the closet—commonly the second biggest budget item in a family after the mortgage, or in some cases, even surpassing it. A whopping 83 percent of Americans believe high costs stand in the way good health care, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. And 66 percent named high health costs as their top issue in the recent midterms, according to a CBS News poll. Beyond that, a recent study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute—based on banking data—said that in any given year, one in six families (17 percent) makes at least one extraordinary health care payment, defined as at least $400 and 1 percent of annual income, and more than two standard deviations from the family’s monthly health care spending. In the period 2013-2015, these payments averaged $2,089. Even in the case of good employer-sponsored health care, health costs can be ruinous. Chronic illness can ravage an individual’s or family’s finances over time, and emergency bills could land at any moment due to an unlucky accident. How do I know this? I’m the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts, a New York company bringing transparency to health care by telling people what stuff costs. We do this both on our home site and in partnership with other news organizations. Watch the recent TED talk I gave that collected more than half a million views in less than a week, and just passed 866,000.” Jeanne Pinder, “Winning loyal customers by rising to the challenge of soaring health costs,” BAI.org.