Survey Finds Rate of Insured Adults Has Not Improved Under ACA
Although the rate of uninsured young U.S. adults dropped by 7% between 2010 -- when the Affordable Care Act was enacted -- and 2012, the insured rate of the overall adult population did not see a similar improvement during that period, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey released Friday, Modern Healthcare reports (Block, Modern Healthcare, 4/26).
Details of Survey
The biennial insurance coverage survey -- which was conducted between April 26 and Aug. 19 last year by Princeton Survey Research Associates International -- included responses from 3,393 individuals between ages 19 and 64 (Tran, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 4/26).
According to the survey, 11.7 million, or 41%, of adults ages 19 to 25 were uninsured or underinsured at some point in 2012, compared with about 13.6 million, or 48%, of the age group in 2010 (Collins et al., Commonwealth Fund survey, 4/26). However, among the overall adult population, 84 million, or 46%, of those ages 19 to 64 were uninsured or underinsured at some point in 2012.
Researchers found that the 2012 figures represent an increase from the 61 million U.S. adults ages 19 to 64 who were uninsured or underinsured in 2003 and the 81 million who were uninsured or underinsured in 2010, the year of the previous survey, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 4/26).
Meanwhile, 75 million, or 41%, of U.S. adults reported problems paying their health care bills or paying off medical care-related debt, and 80 million, or 43%, of U.S. adults reported difficulties obtaining necessary care because of cost-related problems (Commonwealth Fund survey, 4/26).Â Of the 75 million U.S. adults who reported having medical debt, 42% -- or about 32 million U.S. adults -- said their credit score was affected by their medical debtÂ ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 4/26).
The researchers noted that of the estimated 84 million adults who did not have adequate or any health coverage in 2012, 85% would qualify for some type of federal subsidy or Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act in 2014. They noted that the decline in the young adult uninsured rate likely was a result of a provision in the ACA that allows individuals up to age 26 to remain on their parents' health plans.
Commonwealth Fund Officials Comment on Findings
Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance at the Commonwealth Fund, in a statement said the survey results show "[i]t will be critical to continue to monitor the effects of the law as the major provisions go into effect in 2014 and beyond to ensure it achieves its goal of near-universal, comprehensive health insurance" (Wayne, Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/26).
Collins added that new coverage options under the ACA "have the potential to significantly reduce the numbers of people who are uninsured and underinsured." However, she noted that millions of low-income individuals and families could remain uninsured if states opt out of the Medicaid expansion.
Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal, during a media conference call, noted that the findings "point clearly to the need to move forward with implementation" of the ACA ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 4/26).
The findings come after a recent Society of Actuaries report projected that health insurance claims costs would rise significantly in several states under the ACA. For example, Maryland's largest insurer this week announced a proposed 25% average rate increase for individual plans in 2014.When asked about the affordability of health insurance during the conference call, Collins said she does not expect it to be a substantial issue because there has been a significant decline in recent years among insurers seeking rate hikes over 10% (Modern Healthcare, 4/26). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.