New data on health insurance in the U.S. from The Commonwealth Fund reflects quality of coverage and the impact of coverage levels on consumers’ ability to pay medical bills and access care.
Among the findings in the Biennial Health Insurance Survey, The Commonwealth Fund reports that consumers who are “underinsured,” meaning they carry high health plan deductibles and out-of-pocket medical expenses compared to their income, are more likely to have challenges paying their medical bills or avoid medical care because of the expense.
Twenty-nine percent of insured adults qualified as “underinsured” in 2018, an increase from 23 percent in 2014.“U.S. working-age adults are significantly more likely to have health insurance since the ACA [Affordable Care Act] became law in 2010. But the improvement in uninsured rates has stalled.
In addition, more people have health plans that fail to adequately protect them from health care costs, with the fastest deterioration in cost protection occurring in employer coverage,” said Sara Collins, lead author of the study and The Commonwealth Fund vice president for health care coverage and access, in a news release.
The survey offers a big-picture look at consumers’ health insurance, including the quality of their coverage, in 2018.
Key findings in the survey include:
Twenty-eight percent of U.S. adults who have health insurance through their employer were underinsured in 2018, an increase from 20 percent in 2014.
Consumers who purchased plans on their own through the individual market or the marketplaces were the most likely to be underinsured, with 42 percent reporting a lack of adequate coverage in 2018.
Forty-one percent of underinsured adults reported they held off on care they needed because of the expense, compared to 23 percent of consumers with “adequate insurance coverage.”
And, 47 percent of underinsured adults said they had medical bill and debt problems, compared to 25 percent of consumers who are not underinsured reporting these challenges.