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No insurance? What about not enough?

Stethoscope lying on money

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: We hear a lot about the growing number of uninsured people in the U.S. A new study today from the Commonwealth Fund shows the number of underinsured Americans has skyrocketed since 2003. Jeremy Hobson reports from Washington.


Jeremy Hobson: For this study, underinsured means you have insurance, but your costs aren't even close to covered. In some cases, it means you had to spend 10 percent of your income on out-of-pocket medical expenses.

And Cathy Schoen at the Commonwealth Fund says many underinsured Americans put their own health at risk.

Cathy Schoen: They didn't see a doctor when sick. They didn't fill a medication. They didn't get a diagnostic test or follow-up care.

For adults aged 19 to 64, the number of underinsured jumped 60 percent in the last four years.

Health care expert Henry Aaron at the Brookings Institution says the explanation is simple.

Henry Aaron: The underlying problem is that health care spending is rising very much faster than incomes of typical American workers.

Aaron says equally important is the increase in health care spending by employers. Higher benefit costs mean less money for salaries, so employees have less cash to shell out for health care.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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