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Health Insurance Woes Growing Among Middle Class, Foundation Says

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By Shannon Koehle
EmpowHer's Health Reporter

Not long ago, health insurance woes were linked to Americans living in poverty.

However, a recent analysis by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation focused on promoting high performance healthcare, indicated insurance enigmas have spread to the middle class.

As the number of underinsured middle class Americans tripled since 2003, adults lacking medical insurance or were underinsured rose to 75 million.

As coauthor of the Commonwealth Fund article, How Many Are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 and 2007, Jennifer Kriss says, “I think this is a big concern. It’s been creeping into the middle class. It’s not just a lower class problem anymore.”

Similarly, 53 percent of underinsured individuals and 68 percent of those without insurance went without needed medical care. This includes not filling required pharmaceutical prescriptions, not seeking a medical professional when sick, and not receiving recommended tests and treatments.

According to the Families USA Foundation, The Voice for Health Care Consumers says, “Our nation’s cities are on the front lines of the health care crisis and are affected on a daily basis by the rising number of uninsured Americans.”

Not only are Americans forgoing needed medical care, once they make the decision to seek assistance, these individuals are often left in medical-bill debt, forced to alter their lives to pay their fees.

As the Commonwealth Fund article states, “Many reported that they took a loan, a mortgage against their home, or credit card debt to pay their bill.”

According to the National Coalition on Health Care, “Nearly 90 million people – about one-third of the population below the age of 65 – spent a portion of either 2006 or 2007 without health coverage.”

Attributing the rise in underinsured and uninsured Americans to high deductibles and co-payments, lower medical benefits, and increased out-of-pocket costs, Kriss says another concern is the high percentage of income people are spending on medical bills.

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