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Maine.gov > PFR Home > Insurance Regulation > Letters from Superintendent Kofman > Commonwealth Fund’s
Studies on Underinsured Americans

 

Maine’s Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman
Recognizes The Commonwealth Fund’s
Studies on Underinsured Americans

Kofman Selected to Highlight Underinsured Issue at Inaugural
CUNY Graduate School of Journalism Webcast Panel Discussion

August 5, 2008

Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman today recognized The Commonwealth Fund’s recent study focusing on the underinsured in the United States.  Published by Health Affair in June, the study “How Many Are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 and 2007,” indicates that the number of underinsured adults in this country—people with health coverage that does not adequately protect them from high medical expenses—has increased substantially.

The study estimates that 25 million Americans (14 percent of all nonelderly adults) were underinsured during 2007.  This figure represents a 60 percent increase from 2003.  The study also estimates that more than one in four individuals was uninsured for all or part of the year.  Combining the underinsured and uninsured, approximately 75 million adults, or 42 percent of the under 65 population, had either no insurance or inadequate coverage in 2007, up from 35 percent in 2003.

“The Commonwealth Fund’s study contributes significantly to our body of knowledge about health insurance coverage in the United States,” Superintendent Kofman commented.  “With much attention properly focused on those who lack coverage entirely, this study reminds us that problems associated with the underinsured are similarly pressing and growing worse.”

According to the study, the underinsured report problems similar to the uninsured.  More than half of the underinsured (53%) and two-thirds of the uninsured (68%) went without needed care—including not seeing a physician when sick, failing to fill prescriptions, and not following through on recommended treatment or testing.  Only 31 percent of insured adults went without such care.

About half the underinsured (45%) and uninsured (51%) reported having difficulty paying bills, being contacted by collection agencies, or changing their way of life to pay medical bills.  Many reported taking a loan, a mortgage against their home, or credit card debt to pay bills.

"The Commonwealth Fund study demonstrates that many people in America are insured but not financially protected.  As a result, they may forego needed medical care or end up bankrupt,” Kofman added.

Drawing attention to the burgeoning number of underinsured and the way this issue is covered by the media, the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Journalism has launched a new series of health-related webcasts for journalists this summer.  Recognized as a national expert, Superintendent Kofman was invited to participate in the inaugural “Talking Health” panel discussion and webcast on July 14th.

Hosted by Trudy Lieberman, Director of the Health and Medicine Reporting Program at CUNY, “Talking Health” is presented by the Association of Health Care Journalists, The Commonwealth Fund, and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.  In addition to Superintendent Kofman, this inaugural program featured Sara Collins of The Commonwealth Fund who co-authored the study and Helen Darling who serves as the President of the National Business Group on Health.  The program can be viewed on The Commonwealth Fund’s website at www.commonwealthfund.org/multimedia/.

According to its website, The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.

 

Last Updated: August 22, 2012