New Study Shows Profound Income Divide In Health Insurance & Access To Health Care

By Micah Clemens

A new study released this morning from The Commonwealth Fund showed “Adults in low- and moderate-income families are more likely to be uninsured, to lack a regular source of health care, and to struggle to get the health care they need compared to those in higher-income families.” This gap continues in the length of time that the families are uninsured.

The survey found that 57 percent of people in low-income families—those earning less than $29,726 for a family of four (133 percent of poverty)—were uninsured for some time in the past year, and 35 percent had been uninsured for two years or more. More than one-third (36%) of adults in moderate-income families—those earning between $29,726 and $55,875 for a family of four (133 to 249 percent of poverty)—were uninsured during the year, and 18 percent had been uninsured for two years or more.

In contrast, just 12 percent of adults in families with incomes at or above $89,400 for a family of four (400 percent of poverty) were uninsured during the year, and only 3 percent were uninsured for two years or more.

“Health Reform Could Nearly Eliminate Gaps When Fully Implemented in 2014″

The study’s authors showed encouraging news that “the Affordable Care Act is positioned to narrow, if not entirely eliminate, the profound income inequalities that currently exist in the U.S. health care system”:

  • The Affordable Care Act has already expanded health insurance to 2.5 million 19-to-25 year-olds, banned lifetime limits on health insurance coverage, created pre-existing condition insurance plans providing health insurance options to those who were often uninsurable, and required insurers to cover preventive care without requiring co-payments.
  • But the major provisions of the law to be implemented in 2014 will have the biggest effect on narrowing the income divide, through expanded Medicaid coverage; new health insurance exchanges offering comprehensive coverage and premium tax credits to make coverage affordable; and new rules that will prevent insurers from denying coverage or charging people more based on pre-existing conditions or gender.

Find out more by reading the report on The Commonwealth Fund’s Website.

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