A new Commonwealth Fund report released yesterday tackles the existing health insurance inequities between people with higher and lower incomes.
The report finds that, nationally, nearly 3 in 5 adults in families earning less than 133% percent of the federal poverty level (about $14,000 per year for an individual) were uninsured at some point in 2011, and 2 in 5 were uninsured for one or more years. Low- and moderate-income adults who were uninsured during the year were also found to be much less likely to have a regular doctor or source of health care than other folks in their income range who had insurance all year. Uninsured lower-income adults were also found to be more likely to use hospital emergency rooms for things other than emergencies.
This isn’t surprising – people at low income levels really have no other option for insurance than Medicaid, and most states really only cover the lowest-income adults, and only then if they have children. In most states, adults who don’t get insurance through their jobs have few options for coverage. And, we all know that without health insurance, getting regular, affordable healthcare can be a pretty daunting task.
The report also talks about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is set to substantially reduce these inequities in a number of ways, including expanding Medicaid coverage, expanding dependent coverage to adults up to age 26, and insurance market changes related to the forthcoming health insurance exchanges.
It’s a worthwhile read – be sure to check it out if you get the chance.