Posted on September 15, 2006
Most Who Seek Individual Health Insurance Do Not Buy It, Study Finds
Most Who Seek Individual Health Insurance Never Get It, Study Finds
As employers cope with rising healthcare costs by dropping benefits or increasing employee cost-sharing through higher deductibles, workers and their families often turn to the individual-insurance market only to find coverage unobtainable or unaffordable, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund finds.
According to Squeezed: Why Rising Exposure to Health Care Costs Threatens the Health and Financial Well-Being of American Families (46 pages, PDF), nearly 90 percent of working-age adults who sought coverage in the individual market during the past three years never bought a plan; 58 percent found it very difficult or impossible to find affordable coverage; and 21 percent of those who sought to buy coverage were turned down, charged a higher price because of a pre-existing condition, or had a health problem excluded from coverage. Moreover, those with high-deductible health plans are more likely than those with lower deductibles to have burdensome medical debt and to forego needed health care, and they are less satisfied with the quality of care they do receive.
"Most of the increase in the number of uninsured Americans — now upwards of 46.6 million — was due to a decline in workplace coverage," said Commonwealth Fund assistant vice president Sara Collins, lead author of the report. "Although the individual market is a last resort for those shut out of employer-sponsored coverage, it is by no means a safe or secure haven for everyone."