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25 Million Underinsured Americans According To New Study

Posted Jun 11th, 2008 by Patient Assistance Team

"Here in the United States, you can have health insurance all year long and still go into medical debt or face bankruptcy" - Cathy Schoen (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/10)

When identifying issues in our healthcare system, much of the focus is on Americas 47 million and growing uninsured individuals. But that is not the only number that has continued to grow for the worse over the recent years.

A study focusing on the number of underinsured individuals was released by Health Journal this week, revealing an increase of 60% between 2003 and 2007. The study, completed by Cathy Schoen, the Commonwealth Fund's president for research and evaluation, and her colleagues, surveyed 3.500 adults from June to October in 2007. This sample audience was 75% comprised of adults ages 19 to 64.

The results of the study found that one out of every five adults under the age of 65 where underinsured, or 25 million adults. The reason to blame for the increase from 16 million underinsured adults reported in 2003 revolves around the rising cost of healthcare deductibles, reduction in benefits available, and a higher number of smaller companies that continue not to offer insurance to their employees.

The study defined being underinsured as having health insurance all year round, yet their out of pocket medical costs and deductibles equal to or greater than 10% of their annual income, or 5% if they where classified as low income earnings wise. About 45% of those surveyed had trouble paying their medical bill, were contacted by collection agencies, or made lifestyle changes to afford their healthcare needs. That same question was asked to uninsured and adequately insured individuals as well, with their respective results being 51% and 21%. All three categories where polled about whether they went without necessary medical care due to cost issues, with the underinsured at 53%, uninsured at 68%, and the adequately insured at 31%.

Underinsured individuals are eligible various forms of assistance, such as patient assistance programs and government benefits programs, that provide financial aid to those who meet their eligibility requirements. As the bases for those being underinsured focuses on the out of pocket spending they contribute towards their healthcare, a free prescription discount card may also provide benefit by significantly reducing the cost of prescription medications.

You can read the full study below:

How Many Are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 and 2007