November 15, 2011
Americans are continuing to lose health insurance coverage and to struggle paying for serious medical conditions, according to two separate surveys.
A Gallup poll found the proportion of adults with no health insurance has been above 17% for the last six months. The rate in the third quarter of 2008 was 14.4%.
One positive impact from President Barack Obama’s health care reform is that the uninsured rate for 18-25 year olds is down to 24.2%; it was 28% in mid-2010. The change is attributed to the law’s provision allowing parents to keep their children on their health insurance plans until age 26.
But things are worse for older adults (26-64 years of age). The uninsured rate for them has climbed from 18.1% to 19.9%.
The percentage of Americans with employer-based health insurance has declined steadily, from 49.8% at the beginning of 2008 to 44.5% in the most recent poll.
Also, Americans with chronic illness or serious health problems have it tougher than their counterparts in other high-income countries when it comes to paying their medical bills, according to a survey of 18,000 adults in the U.S. by The Commonwealth Fund.
“Despite spending far more on health care than any other country, the United States practically stands alone when it comes to people with illness or chronic conditions having difficulty affording health care and paying medical bills,” Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said.
The survey found that 42% of adults with health problems went without care because of costs, and more than a quarter said they could not pay or found it difficult to do so. In comparison, the rate in other countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, theNetherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland) ranged from 1% to 14%.