Insured But Not Protected: How Many Adults Are Underinsured?
Health insurance is in the midst of a design shift toward greater financial risk for patients. Where medical cost exposure is high relative to income, the shift will increase the numbers of underinsured people. This study estimates that nearly sixteen million people ages 19-64 were underinsured in 2003. Underinsured adults were more likely to forgo needed care than those with more adequate coverage and had rates of financial stress similar to those of the uninsured. Including adults uninsured during the year, 35 percent (sixty-one million) were under- or uninsured. These findings highlight the need for policy attention to insurance design that considers the adequacy of coverage.