"Growing numbers of adults with insurance find that they are not adequately protected from the rising cost of healthcare," states a report on a study by the Commonwealth Fund published in the June 10 issue of the health-policy journal Health Affairs.
The study, titled "How Many Are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 and 2007," found "a sharp increase in the number of underinsured people." The authors reported that as of 2007, about 25 million insured people ages 19-64 were underinsured, marking a 60% increase since 2003. "In total, 42% of U.S. adults were underinsured or uninsured. The underinsured report high levels of access problems and financial stress," according to the report.
Although adults with very low incomes were at the highest risk of being uninsured or underinsured, the study discovered that "insurance erosion has spread up the income distribution well into the middle-income range. The percentage of underinsured reached double digits for those with annual incomes of $40,000-$59,999."
The research team concluded that adults ages 19-29 continue to be most at risk of being uninsured, with only 41% insured all year and not underinsured in 2007. Although adults ages 50-64 in the survey were more apt than young adults to be insured all year, they were also "more likely to be underinsured, reflecting higher rates of chronic disease and poor health as adults near the age of Medicare." The authors estimated that compared with 2003, "one third of older adults were either underinsured or uninsured as of 2007. …