Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Media's Attack On ACA Ignores Consequences Of Underinsurance

Also, as noted by a news item on NPR, these cheap policies often do not cover cancer, and are subject to cancellation if a person actually gets sick and needs them.

Oct. 29, 2013

----- [examples of such media stories are given]

Individuals Being Highlighted By Media Are Underinsured

Wemple: Woman Featured On CBS Had A "Pray-That-You-Don't-Get-Really-Sick" Plan. In a post on the Washington Post's Erik Wemple blog, Wemple noted that Dianne Barrette, a woman highlighted on a CBS report on plan cancellation, had coverage that would not have covered hospitalization and "could well have bankrupted" her:

More coverage may provide a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of Barrette's situation: Her current health insurance plan, she says, doesn't cover "extended hospital stays; it's not designed for that," says Barrette. Well, does it cover any hospitalization? "Outpatient only," responds Barrette. Nor does it cover ambulance service and some prenatal care. On the other hand, says Barrette, it does cover "most of my generic drugs that I need" and there's a $50 co-pay for doctors' appointments. "It's all I could afford right now," says Barrette.

In sum, it's a pray-that-you-don't-really-get-sick "plan." When asked if she ever required hospitalization, Barrette says she did. It happened when she was employed by Raytheon, which provided "excellent benefits." Ever since she left the company and started working as an independent contractor, "I haven't been hospitalized since then, thank God." Hospitalization is among the core requirements for health-care plans under Obamacare. [Washington Post, Erik Wemple Blog, 10/28/13]


Underinsurance Carries Many Of The Same Risks As Uninsurance

KFF: Underinsurance Can Lead To Lack Of Care, Medical Debt, "Other Severe Financial Problems." In a post titled "The 'Underinsurance' Problem Explained," the Kaiser Family Foundation pointed out that lack of adequate health insurance can lead to poor health outcomes and financial problems:

Some of the underinsured avoid going to the doctor or getting prescriptions filled because they can't afford it. Others end up with medical debt and other severe financial problems.

Often, sicker or older (those just short of qualifying for Medicare) people are underinsured because they can't afford comprehensive coverage. One reason? Only 18 states limit how much insurers can base premiums on factors such as age, health status and gender. [Kaiser Family Foundation, 9/28/09]


Access to Care
Relative to those with more adequate insurance, the underinsured were significantly more likely to go without care because of costs. In fact, they reported rates of cost-related, forgone care close to those of the uninsured.

More than one-half of the underinsured (54%) and uninsured (59%) went without needed care during the year: they failed to fill a prescription, skipped a test or follow-up, failed to visit a doctor for a medical problem, and/or did not get specialist care.

Medical Bills
Levels of financial stress among the underinsured rivaled levels among the uninsured and were four times the rates observed among the more adequately insured.


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