Kaiser Family Foundation just issued a useful brief on the uninsured (Five Facts About the Uninsured), which is a good, data-driven summary about the roughly 50 million people in that category in the US as of 2009.
The facts are as folllows:
- 90 percent of the uninsured are in low or moderate income families, i.e., making less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level of $22,050 for a family of four.
- >75 percent of uninsured people are part of a working family. Either their employer doesn’t offer insurance or the employee contribution is considered too high.
- Medicaid is a key gap filler, picking up some of the slack as private coverage declined during the recession, especially with additional funds paid to the states through ARRA. However, Medicaid’s eligibility rules mean not all low-income adults are eligible.
- About 25 percent of uninsured adults skip care they need because it’s too costly. They are less likely than those with insurance to get preventive care and services for major illnesses.
- Medical bills are a big burden and often land the uninsured in big debt that they can’t escape. Exacerbating the problem: hospitals and doctors often charge the uninsured more than what they charge insurance companies.
The report doesn’t break a lot of new ground but it is a helpful summary for policymakers.
It would be interesting to understand how issues #4 and #5 are affecting people with insurance. My sense on #4 is that even insured patients are deterred by high co-payment, co-insurance, etc. from getting some care they need and that the problem is getting worse. And on #5 it’s surprisingly easy to run up bills in the thousands of dollars or beyond and also to lose health insurance during an illness.September 20, 2010