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PNHP RESOURCES

Prevalence of underinsurance unimproved and likely worse under ACA

Cost Still a Barrier Between Americans and Medical Care

By Rebecca Riffkin
Gallup, November 28, 2014

One in three Americans say they have put off getting medical treatment that they or their family members need because of cost. Although this percentage is in line with the roughly 30% figures seen in recent years, it is among the highest readings in the 14-year history of Gallup asking the question.

Last year, many hoped that the opening of the government healthcare exchanges and the resulting increase in the number of Americans with health insurance would enable more people to seek medical treatment. But, despite a drop in the uninsured rate, a slightly higher percentage of Americans than in previous years report having put off medical treatment, suggesting that the Affordable Care Act has not immediately affected this measure.

The percentage of Americans with private health insurance who report putting off medical treatment because of cost has increased from 25% in 2013 to 34% in 2014.

This year, 22% of Americans say they have put off medical treatment for a "very" or "somewhat serious" condition. 

Bottom Line

One of the goals of opening the government exchanges was to enable more Americans to get health insurance to help cover the costs of needed medical treatments. While many Americans have gained insurance, there has been no downturn in the percentage who say they have had to put off needed medical treatment because of cost.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/179774/cost-barrier-americans-medical-care.aspx

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Underinsurance Remains Big Problem Under Obama Health Law

By Aaron E. Carroll
The New York Times, December 1, 2014

The A.C.A. has not done as much as many had hoped it would to reduce underinsurance. In fact, it may be helping to spread it. And proposed modifications to the law, like those that would introduce a new tier of “copper” plans in addition to bronze, silver, gold and platinum, might make underinsurance worse.

The point of having insurance is to be able to get care when you need it, without too large a financial burden. Underinsured Americans are not receiving this benefit, though. They can’t get the care they need. Twenty-seven percent of adults with a deductible large enough to render them underinsured didn’t see the doctor when they were sick; 23 percent didn’t get a preventive care test; 29 percent skipped a test, treatment or follow-up appointment; and 22 percent didn’t see a specialist to whom they were referred. Forty percent of them had at least one of these cost-related access problems.

These are people who had private health insurance for the full year. They are not the uninsured.

In the quest for universal coverage, it’s important that we not lose sight of “coverage” in order to achieve “universal.” The point of improving access is, after all, to make sure that people can get, and afford, care when they need it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/upshot/underinsurance-remains-big-prob...

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Comment:

By Don McCanne, MD

Health care reform should have eliminated underinsurance, not create more of it. The private insurance industry will not fix this problem but only compound it as it strives to keep its premiums competitive.

We need to replace the private insurers with our own single payer program. For some, Medicare is also underinsurance. We need to fix that and then provide it to everyone.