UNINSURED: Many Mistaken About Health Care Costs, Report Says
According to a new report from the California HealthCare Foundation, the majority of "non-poor" -- those with incomes 200% above the poverty level -- uninsured believe they cannot afford health insurance. The report indicates that approximately half of the non-poor uninsured would purchase coverage if there was heightened awareness, while the remaining half are unlikely to be affected by such an educational campaign . The survey, conducted by the San Francisco-based Field Research Corporation, targeted the 2.5 million uninsured California residents who are ineligible for government insurance programs and would be likely candidates for individual health care plans. Of the 1,009 uninsured respondents, 75% said they could not afford insurance and 68% overestimated the cost of insurance available in their county. After being presented with data revealing the actual cost of certain plans, 53% said that they would buy into at least one plan. Jill Yegian, head of CHFC's uninsured program, said, "Misperceptions of the cost of health insurance may be preventing the non-poor uninsured from exploring their options in the market." The survey also found that while 81% of those surveyed were employed, only 10% were eligible to participate in an employer-based health plan. In addition, the survey revealed that while 67% "worry" about lacking health insurance and 29% "worry a lot," 43% indicated that health insurance "is [not] a good value" and 48% said they had not purchased a plan because they were in "good health." Based on the findings, CHCF president and CEO Mark Smith said that "the non-poor uninsured may still not purchase individual coverage without better information about the cost and benefits of insurance. Even armed with that information, many may choose not to buy." Of all participants, 62% were under age 40, 40% owned their own home and 92% had purchased some other form of insurance other than health insurance (CHCF release, 10/19). Pointing to findings that "42% of the respondents said they hadn't had medical care in the last year, 8% used medical services but were not charged and 25% spent less than $300 on health services in the past year," the California Medical Association's Steve Thompson said that the results may indicate that many of the uninsured are "simply practical" (Fisher, Sacramento Bee, 10/20).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.