25 million U.S. adults are underinsured

June 11, 2008 at 5:08 PM
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NEW YORK, June 11 (UPI) -- The number of underinsured U.S. adults rose 60 percent from 2003 to 2007 from 16 million to more than 25 million, researchers said.

The Commonwealth Fund report released as a Health Affairs Web exclusive said middle and higher income families were hit the hardest by the steep increase. Underinsured rates nearly tripled for those with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is an annual income of $40,000 or higher for a family.

Commonwealth Fund authors Cathy Schoen, Sara Collins, Jennifer Kriss and Michelle Doty use 2007 national survey data to provide a national estimate of the underinsured, updating a 2003 study.

The analysis said 25.2 million insured adults ages 19 to 64 were underinsured and and often go without care, don't fill a prescription or go without tests because of cost. The underinsured included those insured all year who spent 10 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket medical expenses, or 5 percent of income if low-income -- under 200 percent of federal poverty level, or who had per person deductibles equal to 5 percent or more of family annual income.

"Today you can have health insurance and still go bankrupt if you get sick," Schoen said.

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