Dressing up the Individual (Market)

As we continue to struggle with how to get more people coverage, I’d suggest a look at this Kaiser Family Foundation report from February. The study looks at people who can’t get public coverage and aren’t offered insurance through their jobs.

Among the findings:

  • At 400% of poverty, the outer limit of an income that could qualify for subsidies in California (under last year’s health reform discussions), only 25% of family purchased coverage on the individual market.
  • At 1000% of poverty, fewer than half (49%) of families purchased coverage.

Self-employed families, who receive tax credits on the premiums took up coverage at ever-so-slightly higher rates:

  • At 400% of poverty, about 30% purchased coverage
  • At 1000% of poverty, 58% took up coverage

The study, however, did not take into consideration the regulatory atmosphere — whether individuals *wanted* to buy coverage, but were denied because of pre-existing conditions, or priced out because of their health histories — all important factors as we go forward.

So the upshot is this: health coverage on the individual market isn’t that attractive to lots of people and policymakers are going to have to find a way to make it more so, including subsidies that “may need to extend higher up the income scale than some policymakers may prefer.”

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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