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25 Million Americans Are 'Underinsured'
Date:6/10/2008

Middle- and upper-income families find it harder to get needed medical care, report says

TUESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- The number of American adults who had inadequate health insurance to cover their medical expenses rose 60 percent from 2003 to 2007, from 16 million to more than 25 million people.

Hardest hit were families with middle and higher incomes, those whose income was 200 percent above the federal poverty level or those with an annual income of $40,000 or more, a new report by The Commonwealth Fund found.

"Insurance coverage is the ticket into the health-care system," Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund, said during a Monday teleconference. "For too many, that ticket does not buy financial security or genuine access to care.

"We need to extend effective, affordable health insurance to all," added Davis. "Shifting costs to patients is not an equitable or effective solution to rising health-care costs. It is time for serious consideration of changes in the way we pay for and deliver health services. Ultimately, we need a national solution to the problem of millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans."

The report is published in the June 10 issue of Health Affairs.

To make their estimates, the researchers conducted a national survey in 2007 of 3,501 adults. They found that among adults aged 19 to 64, 25.2 million were "underinsured." That number was based on out-of-pocket health-care costs as a proportion of income.

"Overall, the study finds a startling 60 percent increase in the number of underinsured working age adults over the past four years," said study co-author Cathy Schoen, a senior vice president at The Commonwealth Fund. "A jump up to 25 million underinsured in 2007, compared to only 16 million in 2003."

Approximately 42 percent of adults aged 19 to 64 years old -- 75 million people -- were either underinsured or didn't hav
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