Many Find Health Insurance Doesn't Cover Costs
Overall, about 45 percent of Americans are underinsured or uninsured
TUESDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- About 29 percent of Americans have health insurance that is inadequate and leaves them struggling to pay medical bills, according to a survey in the September issue of Consumer Reports. When added to the 16 percent of Americans who lack health insurance, this implies that 45 percent of Americans have inadequate access to health care.
The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed 2,905 Americans aged 18 to 64 in May 2007. In addition, 37,000 readers were surveyed on the best health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred-provider organizations (PPOs).
The researchers found that the median income of underinsured households was $58,950, well above the U.S. median. Yet underinsured households said their insurance was inadequate to pay for prescription drugs, doctor visits, medical tests and procedures, or catastrophic medical conditions, or that their deductible was too high.
Health care premiums have risen at three times the rate of inflation in the past five years, increasing the burden on employers and employees, according to the report. The average employee contribution for family coverage has risen from $135 per month in 2000 to $248 per month in 2006.
The report notes that insurance companies generally keep 15 to 25 percent of premiums so they pay little penalty for failing to contain costs. In 2006, the six biggest private health insurers made about $11 billion in profits.