Pension & Benefits News Underinsurance rates increase in 2018
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Underinsurance rates increase in 2018

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

Among adults who were insured all year, 29 percent were underinsured in 2018, up from 23 percent in 2014, according to recent research from the Commonwealth Fund. The Biennial Health Insurance Survey noted that individuals who are underinsured have high health plan deductibles and out-of-pocket medical expenses relative to their income and are more likely to struggle paying medical bills or to skip care because of cost. The survey found that the largest growth in underinsurance was those with employer-based health care: 28 percent of individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance were underinsured in 2018, up from 20 percent in 2014.

Underinsured adults reported having trouble affording health care. The survey found that 41 percent of the underinsured delayed needed care because of cost, compared to 23 percent of those with adequate insurance coverage. And, 47 percent of underinsured adults reported medical bill and debt problems, nearly twice the rate as those who are not underinsured (25 percent).

The survey also found the following:

  • There was no change in the adult uninsured rate between 2016 and the second half of 2018: 12.4 percent of adults were uninsured, down from a high of 20 percent in 2010.
  • The share of individuals who are insured but who experienced a period without coverage in the past year has not changed since 2010, but these coverage gaps are becoming shorter on average. In 2018, 61 percent who reported a gap said they had been without coverage for less than six months, compared to 31 percent who had been uninsured for a year or longer.
  • Adults with continuous insurance coverage, including the underinsured, get preventive care and cancer screenings at higher rates than those without it. According to the Commonwealth Fund, 93 percent of adults with continuous full coverage and 94 percent of adults who were underinsured for all of 2018 had a regular source of care.


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