The Growing Consequences of Inadequate Health Insurance

0 | News Did You Know, Policy Did You Know, Health Insurance

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger delivers a presentation about the ways in which the recent federal health reform legislation could impact the underinsured. Praeger spoke at a Kansas Health Institute-sponsored meeting about the underinsured on April 6, 2010.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger delivers a presentation about the ways in which the recent federal health reform legislation could impact the underinsured. Praeger spoke at a Kansas Health Institute-sponsored meeting about the underinsured on April 6, 2010.

While much attention has been devoted to uninsured Kansans, far less has been focused on the emerging problem of underinsurance. But recent research has begun to shed light on the issue. A 2007 report by the Commonwealth Fund put the number of underinsured individuals in the United States at approximately 25 million. The same report said that 41 percent of working age adults had trouble paying medical bills or had accumulated medical debt. That is an important finding given that medical debt is the primary cause of approximately half of all bankruptcy filings.

2010 Convening

On April 6, 2010, the Kansas Health Institute held the “Meeting the Challenges of Underinsurance” convening to present the findings from The Underinsured in Kansas project and explore policy implications and opportunities based on the results.

To download slides from Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger’s keynote presentation or KHI’s “Underinsurance: What We’ve Learned” presentation, please follow the links below.

Issue Brief

In addition to detailing what we know about the size and scope of the problem both nationally and in Kansas, this issue brief discusses the difficulty that researchers and policymakers are having reaching consensus on what constitutes underinsurance and alerts policymakers to issues they should consider when attempting to craft solutions. Click on the Issue Brief link below to read this document.

What is underinsurance?

Being underinsured means someone has inadequate health insurance coverage to address the financial expenses associated with health care services, resulting in financial strain, medical debt, or postponing needed care due to cost.

2009 Convening

KHI sponsored a convening Jan. 23, 2009 to encourage dialogue, enhance understanding of underinsurance and its impact on Kansans, start creating consensus about defining and measuring underinsurance, and identify salient policy implications. Click on the Convening Summary link below to find out what happened during this meeting. This video also provides information about the convening.

Project Update

The health reform discussion underway in Washington, D.C., lends urgency to the topic of what constitutes sufficient coverage. The goal of the KHI underinsurance initiative is to contribute to that discussion by helping policymakers better understand what it means to be underinsured and to determine the extent to which inadequate coverage is a problem in Kansas. The progress we are making toward that goal is summarized in the Project Update document below.

Research Brief

While concern about the number of individuals who do not have health insurance remains prevalent, another equally important issue related to health insurance coverage often goes unnoticed: underinsurance. By examining what it means to be underinsured, this brief looks at how even Kansans who have insurance may still face significant financial or coverage difficulties that limit their ability to access health care. The Research Brief document may be accessed below.

Video

Underinsurance in Kansas

KHI video report on underinsurance – the extent to which Kansans with health insurance have adequate coverage.

KHI video report on underinsurance – the extent to which Kansans with health insurance have adequate coverage.

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