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Insured but poorly protected: 25 million adults are underinsured
Date:6/9/2008

New York, NY, June 10th, 2008The number of underinsured adultsthose with health insurance all year, but also very high medical expenses relative to their incomesrose by 60 percent between 2003 and 2007, from 16 million to more than 25 million, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study released today as a Health Affairs Web Exclusive. 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.

In "How Many Are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 and 2007," Commonwealth Fund authors Cathy Schoen, Sara Collins, Jennifer Kriss and Michelle Doty use 2007 national survey data to provide a national estimate of the number of adults who are underinsured, updating a 2003 study. The analysis finds that 25.2 million insured adults ages 19-64 were underinsured based on their out-of-pocket health care costs relative to their incomes. Underinsured rates have now reached double-digit levels for families with incomes in the 200-400 percent of poverty range, solidly in the middle class.

"We are seeing the sharp increase in the underinsured because the insured are facing higher cost-shares and limits in insurance benefitspremiums are up but people are buying less protection," said lead author and Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen. "Today you can have health insurance and still go bankrupt if you get sick. This puts individuals, families, and the nation's health and economic security at risk."

Including those who had any time without insurance during the year, the study estimates that more than two of five (42%) adults ages 19-64, or 75 million people, were either uninsured during the year or underinsured during the year as of 2007, up from one-third in 2003. The study identified the underinsured using medical cost exposure relative to income
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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