Cover: New Estimates of the Underinsured Younger Than 65 Years

New Estimates of the Underinsured Younger Than 65 Years

Published in: Journal of American Medical Association, v. 274, No. 16, Oct 25 1995, p. 1302-1306

Posted on 1995

by Pamela Farley Short, J. S. Banthin

We estimate that at least 29 million Americans with private insurance are underinsured. That figure identifies the underinsured younger than 65 years by the risk of large out-of-pocket expenditures for an unusually expensive, catastrophic illness. A slightly smaller number, about 25 million, are underinsured by an alternate definition: they have insurance that pays a smaller proportion of claims tha the plan with the largest enrollment in the federal employee program. The federal employee plan was the insurance standard proposed in serveral recent health sytem reform bills. Our estimate of the number of people who are underinsured for catastrophic illness is almost half again larger than the number that was widely cited during last year's debates on health system reform. That estimate was based on the same concept but was projected from a study published 10 years ago.

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.