'Underinsured' Americans latest healthcare reform controversy

A new healthcare reform debate may be on the horizon. Democrats refer to the issue at hand as the nation's "underinsured" population, reported the Associated Press.

The Affordable Care Act made it possible for millions of Americans to obtain health insurance, but the ACA plans fail to address the problem of underinsured consumers with substantial out-of-pocket costs, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. For this group, the AP said, out-of-pocket costs add up to 10 percent or more of household income, in most cases, or a deductible amounts to 5 percent of income or higher, according to the Commonwealth Fund's definition.

One in four adults with non-group healthcare coverage did not receive needed care because it cost too much, according to a recent study from nonprofit Families USA. Additionally, out of adults with deductibles of $1,500 or more per person, nearly 30 percent could not afford needed care. All told, the Commonwealth Fund said America's underinsured population stands at 31 million.

According to the AP, the problem is not deductibles--consumers tend to prefer high-deductible plans in exchange for lower monthly premiums--but, rather the high cost of medical care itself.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) told the AP that now it is up to the Democrats to make sure insurance for Americans actually translates into meaningful coverage. "We've got some 17 million more people covered … but they can't access the care they seem to be entitled to,"  told the AP. "It costs too much to use the care. That's the deceptive part about it."

Currently, the ACA caps out-of-pocket costs for most plans at $6,600 for an individual policy and $13,200 for a family plan, noted the AP. For many families, this is a stretch, the AP said.

For more:
- here's the AP article

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