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.
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.
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.A person is underinsured if they have health insurance, but either the benefits offered by the insurance are inadequate, or the financial obligations imposed by the insurance are excessive, often leading to medical debt or bankruptcy.
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.
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.
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.
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.