PPACA Implementation Pending, Health Insurance Coverage Gaps Persist

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , April 26, 2013

The percentage of people who were uninsured, underinsured, or had gaps in their health coverage grew steadily between 2003 and 2010, with the number of underinsured nearly doubling from 16 million in 2003 to 29 million in 2010. Between 2010 and 2012, however, the numbers of underinsured adults leveled off, growing to 30 million, the survey found.

That is partly because of slower healthcare cost growth and lower overall health spending by strapped consumers. However, provisions in the PPACA that require insurers to cover preventive care at no cost to patients are also making healthcare more affordable for many consumers, the report says.

The telephone survey was conducted in English or Spanish by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to Aug. 19, 2012 and included a random, nationally representative weighted sample of 4,432 adults ages 19 and older.

Pollsters projected that 80 million people did not go to the doctor or did not get a prescription filled in 2012 because they couldn't afford it. Medical debt also continues to burden many households, with 41% of working-age adults, an estimated 75 million people, having problems paying their medical bills, up from 58 million in 2005.

Nearly one in five people were contacted by a collections agency for unpaid bills, and 16% had to make lifestyle changes because of medical bills. More than 40% of survey respondents who reported having trouble with medical bills, an estimated 32 million people, had a lower credit rating because of unpaid bills and 6%, an estimated 4 million people, declared bankruptcy because of their bills.

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