Individual health insurance not affordable in US

The individual health insurance market is not a viable option for the majority of uninsured adults in US, a new report from The Commonwealth Fund finds.

Seventy-three percent of people who tried to buy insurance on their own in the last three years did not purchase a policy, primarily because premiums were too high.

In addition, among adults with individual coverage or who tried to buy coverage in the past three years, 57 percent said it was very difficult or impossible to find coverage they could afford, 47 percent said it was very difficult or impossible to find a plan with the coverage they needed, and 36 percent were denied coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing condition, or had the condition excluded from their coverage.

The report, Failure to Protect: Why the Individual Insurance Market Is Not a Viable Option for Most U.S. Families, compared the experiences of working-age adults with individual and employer-based private health insurance and found that people who have purchased health insurance in the individual market spend far more out of pocket and on premiums than those with employer-based coverage.

In fact, half of those with individual insurance have out-of-pocket costs and premium expenses that equal 10 percent or more of their income. People with individual coverage do not have premium contributions from their employers, and many are charged higher premiums because of their health status or age.

According to the report, 64 percent of adults with individual insurance spend $3,000 or more per year on premiums while only 20 percent of those with employer insurance spend that much. On average, adults with employer plans spend $2,250 out of pocket for health expenses including premiums, while those with individual market insurance spend an average of $6,750.

“In our current system millions of people without access to employer coverage have no affordable option for health insurance,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. “To achieve a health care system that works for all Americans we need health care reform that offers comprehensive, affordable health insurance to everyone regardless of their health status, premium subsidies to help families with low and moderate incomes afford health insurance, and requirements to ensure that no one is denied health insurance because of a health problem.”

Source: Commonwealth Fund, USA



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