Two out of every five adults nationally, or 41 percent, reported problems paying medical bills or were paying off medical debt over time in 2012, while an estimated 84 million people did not have health insurance for the full year or were underinsured, according to a new report.
Those underinsured are vulnerable to high out-of-pocket medical costs.
The Biennial Health Insurance Survey released Friday by the Commonwealth Fund also found that nearly half (46 percent) of adults ages 19 to 64 nationwide either were uninsured for a time last year or were underinsured.
Moreover, “cost is a substantial obstacle to Americans’ ability to secure timely health care,” the Commonwealth Fund reported.
In its survey, two of five (43 percent) adults, or 80 million people, said they had not filled a prescription or sought needed care because the cost was too high. That’s an increase from 75 million people in 2011 and big jump from 63 million in 2003.
For the first time, the Commonwealth Fund supplemented its national survey results with state-specific data for the four largest states: California, Florida, New York, and Texas.
Most striking find: In Florida and Texas, more than half (53 percent and 54 percent) of adults were either uninsured during the year or underinsured.
Adults in these states were at greater risk of being uninsured or inadequately insured than California and New York adults (42 percent and 43 percent). In Texas, 40 percent of adults reported being uninsured for some time during the year, compared with 31 percent in California and New York.
The Commonwealth Fund explains the implications of its survey results as they relate to President Obama’s healthcare overhaul:
The open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s new insurance coverage options begins this October in all 50 states. People without health insurance, or those who are inadequately insured, will be able to visit a health insurance marketplace to find out if they are eligible for help.
This includes new subsidies to cover the cost of a private health plan sold through the marketplace, available to people earning up to about $92,000 for a family of four, as well as a newly expanded Medicaid program for people with incomes up to about $31,000 for a family of four.
States can run their own insurance marketplaces or choose a federally operated marketplace. California and New York elected to operate their own, while Florida and Texas selected federal marketplaces.