- About 43% of working-age adults were inadequately insured in 2022, meaning they were either uninsured, had a coverage gap in the past year or had unaffordable coverage, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey out Wednesday.
- For those on employer coverage, 29% were underinsured, while 44% of those with individual market and marketplace coverage were underinsured, the survey found.
- High healthcare costs prevented or delayed care for 46% of respondents, and 42% said they had difficulties paying their medical bills or debt.
A record number of Americans are covered by health insurance, with the national uninsured rate reaching an all-time low of 8% in early 2022, according to the HHS.
That’s partially because states haven’t been able to conduct regular Medicaid eligibility checks during the public health emergency.
But many insured Americans still find themselves struggling to afford healthcare, and that could worsen once temporary pandemic rules expire, according to the survey.
“Having health insurance is not enough to protect millions of Americans from high medical costs that are burdening them with bills they cannot pay or debt they are working to pay off,” Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal said on a Wednesday call with reporters.
Ultimately half of those surveyed said they wouldn’t be able to pay an unexpected $1,000 medical bill within 30 days, including 68% of low-income adults, 69% of Black adults and 63% of Latinx/Hispanic adults.
Among those inadequately insured, 9% were uninsured, 11% had a coverage gap over the past year and 23% had coverage that made accessing healthcare services unaffordable, the survey found.
Researchers also identified “chronic uninsurance,” where the vast majority of people who were uninsured at the time of the survey had been uninsured for a year or longer, lead study author Sara Collins said on the call.
Among those who lost or didn’t enroll in individual market or marketplace coverage, most cited not being able to afford plan premiums. For those uninsured people or those with a coverage gap who were previously enrolled in Medicaid, loss of eligibility was the reason most often cited.
About a quarter of those with chronic health problems like diabetes said out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs caused them to skip doses or not fill a prescription.
High costs won’t abate as inflation flows through the health sector and providers negotiate higher rates from insurers. Insurers will attempt to pass those higher costs onto employers and consumers, potentially resulting in higher premium contributions, deductibles and cost sharing for employees in those plans, Collins said.
That could also lead to an increase in people being unable to afford coverage and becoming uninsured or underinsured, she said.
“It is likely that a lot of employers will look at ways of reducing their costs as insurers are looking at ways of reducing the costs,” she said. “There is a big concern that people will pay more out-of-pocket for services, preventive services like colonoscopies, cancer or other cancer screenings.”