55 Million Americans Went Without Health Insurance in 2012

health care reformAmericans still struggle to hold on to health insurance, according to a new study released by the Commonwealth Fund. The New York-based research firm revealed last week that a whopping 55 million people (30 percent of the population) went without insurance for at least part of 2012.

Most going without insurance were said to be people with middle and lower incomes. The good news, however, is that the firm believes health care reform might make a difference in helping those individuals afford coverage in the coming months.

40 Percent of Americans Need More Health Insurance

The Commonwealth Fund conducted a survey from April to August 2012 to determine the number of Americans with health insurance during the year. The results revealed that 40 percent of U.S. residents had gone without coverage or did not have enough coverage to protect themselves against high medical costs at some point last year.

Around 30 million people (16 percent of the population) were underinsured  meaning that their health plans did not offer enough coverage and exposed them to high out-of-pocket costs.

According to the survey, the people who were most likely to be uninsured or underinsured were those earning up to four times the federal poverty level ($11,490 for this year). The lower the incomes dropped, the more likely individuals were to struggle with acquiring or maintaining health insurance coverage.

Health Care Reform to Help Americans Afford Coverage

Despite the high number of Americans still having a hard time securing coverage for an extended period of time, the Commonwealth Fund expressed belief that health care reform will help those who are struggling.

Obamacare will offer financial assistance to low- and middle-income individuals earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line ($45,960 for single individuals), making it easier for those identified in the study to secure coverage.

Some who acquire coverage through a health insurance exchange may be eligible for a federal subsidy (instant tax credit) while others may qualify for coverage under their state’s Medicaid expansion.

While financial assistance is expected to make a difference, some experts have expressed concerns that subsidies may not be large enough to offset premium hikes for some people. Also, many Republican governors are refusing to broaden Medicaid in their states, meaning it’s possible that not all low- and middle-income Americans will benefit from the health care reform as hoped.