About Half of Adults Lacked Adequate Health Coverage in 2012

By Ann Carrns for the New York Times

About half of United States adults ages 19 to 64 didn’t have health insurance for at least part of last year or were underinsured, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund says.

The fund, a private nonprofit organization that finances research into health care and health policy issues, conducts the health insurance survey every two years.

One bright spot, the report found, is that the proportion of young adults without health insurance fell significantly over the last two years, probably because of a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. The rule took effect in September 2010.

Nearly eight out of 10 (79 percent) young adults reported that they were insured, up from 69 percent in 2010. That marks “an abrupt reversal in a decadelong climb” in the number of uninsured young adults, the report said.

Uninsured rates for other age groups, however, either rose or stayed the same. About half of adults ages 19 to 64 didn’t have health insurance for all of 2012 or were underinsured, meaning that they had insurance but struggled to pay for medical costs anyway.

At the time of the survey, about 30 percent said they were uninsured or were insured but hadn’t been at some point during the year. Another 16 percent had insurance, but had such high out-of-pocket medical costs relative to their income that they were effectively uninsured.

The survey also found that people are increasingly skipping needed health care because they can’t afford it (about 43 percent answered yes to that question). That’s up from 37 percent in 2003, the report noted.

The report found that about two out of every five adults had trouble paying medical bills last year or were paying off medical debt over time, and that many of those struggling with medical debt (42 percent) said they had received a lower credit rating as a result.

The results are based on a telephone survey of 4,432 adults by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 25 to August 19, 2012. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The report is the last one the fund will conduct before the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act are scheduled to go into effect, in January 2014.

Did you have a gap in insurance coverage last year? Do you expect the health care law to help provide you with coverage?


  1. Joyce cuccia on May 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    I am a 62 year old female.
    My insurance would have cost over 500.00 a month
    and I do not go to the Dr hardly ever. Just like a lot of my
    friends. We avoid Dr’s if we can. I do not take any drugs .
    I do use bio identical hormone cream . It is never covered because
    it is not a drug.
    I wish we would have fought for single payer !
    I am keeping a positive thought for October when the
    Health Care Law will make things easier.
    I am retired and if my only choice is the option
    like Medicade that is scary. I know how hospitals
    treat those patients.
    I have no idea what will come in October for many
    of us who ate without coverage ??