Archive for the ‘New Mexico’ Category

High Number of Americans are Underinsured

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

The country has been very focused on uninsured Americans over the past couple of years.  Another important issue that is rarely discussed is how many people are actually underinsured.  U.S. News & World Report’s Kimberly Leonard discussed research from the Commonwealth Fund in her article, “Report Highlights Underinsured by State”.  The Commonwealth Fund’s report is called “America’s Underinsured: A State-by-State Look at Health Insurance Affordability Prior to the New Coverage Expansions”.  When looking at Americans under the age of 65, one out of every eight is underinsured.  This means that although they do have health insurance, they still pay a high percentage out of pocket for health care costs.  Many underinsured Americans end up filing for bankruptcy because of their health care bills.  They are also at a high risk of ignoring symptoms and avoiding the doctor.

States with the lowest rates of underinsured Americans were in the Northeast and the upper Midwest.  The Southern and Western states had the highest rates.  New Hampshire’s underinsured rate of 8% was the lowest in the nation.  Some of the other states with low rates include Minnesota, Maryland, and Massachusetts.  The highest underinsured rate of 17% belongs to both Idaho and Utah.  Both Tennessee and Mississippi had underinsured rates of 16%.  When the report looked at the combination of uninsured and underinsured Americans, the highest numbers of uninsured and underinsured Americans were in New Mexico and Texas.  Middle income Americans in Wyoming and Alaska suffer the most from being uninsured or underinsured.  One-third of the middle income population in those states falls into the uninsured or underinsured category.  The lowest uninsured and underinsured rates were in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia.  These states had combined rates less than 20%.

Deductibles, premiums, household income, and insurance status were taken into account for the report results.  Lower income households, earning less than $47,000 per year for a family of four, are considered underinsured if they spend more than 5% of their yearly income on health care costs.  Middle income households, earning between $47,000 and $95,000 per year, are underinsured if more than 10% of their annual income is spent on health care.  The Commonwealth Fund report found that $32 million Americans are underinsured, $4 million of whom come from middle income families.  It also showed that 47 million Americans were uninsured in 2012.  Obviously this data was collected before the Affordable Care Act went into effect.  It will be a good comparison for the next few years to see if the ACA makes the changes that it set out to make in “fixing” our health care system.  The number of uninsured Americans has certainly gone down, and the number of underinsured Americans should as well.  Since insurance companies can no longer discriminate against those with preexisting conditions and they must offer affordable plan choices, fewer Americans may be underinsured in the future.


45% of Health Insurance Applicants Denied in Montana

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

In a recent study done by HealthPocket, they determined that 22% of people applying for health insurance coverage are denied.  This information comes from Fox Business’ article, “Health Insurance Application Denied? Here are 5 Options,” by Mark Chalon Smith.  Luckily for them, President Obama has made it mandatory for insurance companies to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, so that number will be down to almost zero in 2014.  Until then, there are a few things you can do to try and get yourself or your entire family covered by health insurance.  Pre-existing conditions are the top reason why consumers are denied health insurance coverage.  Insurance companies worry that they will be taking on too much risk and will shell out too much money to cover those who are already sick.

Montana is by far the worst offender when it comes to denying health insurance applicants.  Close to 50% of those who apply are denied coverage.  Other states with more than 30% of applicants getting denials are Alabama, the District of Columbia, Arkansas, Alaska, and New Mexico.  One of the main reasons that these states have such high denial numbers is that they typically have fewer health insurers offering plans in their area, so there is less competition.  Individual insurers with the worst denial rates include John Alden Life Insurance Company in South Dakota, Time Insurance Company in Kentucky, and Assurant Health in Utah, North Dakota, and Idaho.  Assurant Health defends their denial rates by saying that they do offer some type of more expensive plan for consumers who were denied their plan of choice, so they weren’t denied altogether.

In New York and Massachusetts, the denial rate for health insurance applications is already zero because those states mandate coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.  If you don’t happen to live in those states though, there are a few ways to try and get health insurance after a denied application.  Try multiple insurers and be sure to ask if there is any plan for which you qualify, even if you were denied your first application.  States offer pre-existing conditions insurance plans (PCIP’s) which have to cover you, even though the rates will be high.  There are also high risk health insurance plans in 35 states that have to cover you, another option that could be costly.  Low income families can get government help through Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  You can also try to join a professional group like a Chamber of Commerce or union to apply for their group coverage.  Keep in mind that it will all be temporary until coverage can no longer be denied in 2014.