Americans health insurance coverage continues to plummet.
The shyrocketing cost of a healthcare system controlled by large pharmaceutical and insurance companies continues to make decent health care a luxury for more and more Americans. While the number of uninsured Americans keeps growing, the number of under insured also continues to grow. This number is up 60 percent in just 4 years between 2003 and 2007 from 16 million to 25 million adults.
The new data comes from a study by released by The Commonwealth Fund and published in the journal Health Affairs found.
“We are seeing the sharp increase in the underinsured because the insured are facing higher cost-shares and limits in insurance benefits—premiums are up but people are buying less protection,” said lead author and Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen. “Today you can have health insurance and still go bankrupt if you get sick. This puts individuals, families, and the nation’s health and economic security at risk.”
For the first time underinsured rates have now reached double-digit levels for middle and higher income families, which appear to be hit the hardest by the steep increase in underinsured rates that nearly tripled for those with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level – an annual income of $40,000 or higher for a family.
Despite these limited benefits, the underinsured faced premium levels that were similar to those paid by adults with more adequate health insurance. Premiums were often very high relative to incomes, adding to financial stress.
The study found that despite the fact that the underinsured have health insurance all year long, they are at high risk of access problems and financial stress—with experiences often similar to the uninsured. Both underinsured and uninsured adults were significantly more likely to go without needed health care and to struggle with medical bills than people with adequate health insurance.
“The United States needs to move in new directions,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. “Middle and low income families are struggling through tough economic times and we need to extend affordable, effective health insurance to all. Shifting costs to patients is not an equitable or effective solution to rising costs. It’s time for serious consideration of changes in the way we pay for and deliver health services—reforms that show much greater potential for gains in quality and efficiency.”