Sunday, June 22, 2008

Under Insured Numbers Growing

Middle Income Families Hit Hardest

LABELLE, FL. -- The number of underinsured adults --those with health insurance all year, but also very high medical expenses relative to their incomes -- rose by 60% between 2003 and 2007, from 16 million to more than 25 million.

Middle- and higher-income families were hit the hardest by the steep increase: underinsurance rates nearly tripled for those with incomes above 200% of the federal poverty level, which is an annual income of $40,000 or higher for a family. Half of the underinsured (53%) and two-thirds of the uninsured (68%) went without needed care because of cost, including not seeing a doctor when sick, not filling prescriptions, and not getting recommended diagnostic tests or treatments.

By contrast, only 31% of the insured reported going without such care. The underinsured were almost as likely as the uninsured to face financial stress related to medical bills. Nearly half (45%) of the underinsured reported difficulty paying bills, being contacted by collection agencies for unpaid bills, or changing their way of life to pay their medical bills, as did half of the uninsured (51%). By contrast, only 21% of the insured reported financial stress related to medical bills.

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