Feb 7, 2019

More Americans are underinsured

Data: The Commonwealth Fund; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The number of underinsured Americans — meaning, people whose out-of-pocket costs eat up a significant percentage of their income — is steadily climbing, according to a new survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

By the numbers: The increase has been sharpest among those who get insurance through their employers, rising from 17% of insured workers in 2010 to 28% last year, representing 44 million Americans.

  • In the individual insurance market, the rate of underinsured consumers has gone from 37% to 42% in the same time frame.

Why it matters: A person is considered underinsured if their out-of-pocket spending exceeds 5-10% of their income, or if their deductible is more than 5% of their income.

  • By definition, those are patients who have a harder time paying their medical bills.
  • And patients with high deductibles are also more exposed to the full cost of health care services, contributing to the public outcry over health care costs.

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