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How Non-Group Health Coverage Varies With Income

With some federal and state policy makers considering ways to encourage more people to purchase non-group, or individual, health care coverage, this new analysis by Kaiser Family Foundation researchers examines how often people at different income levels buy such coverage when they do not have access to employer coverage or do not obtain public coverage.

The analysis finds that relatively few people at lower incomes purchase non-group coverage, with one in 20 purchasing it among those with incomes at the federal poverty level ($18,660 for a family of four in 2003 dollars). As income increases, the coverage rate increases, though even at four times the poverty level, only about a quarter of individuals purchased coverage. And among those with incomes at least 10 times the poverty level, only about half purchased coverage in the non-group market. The analysis does not assess the reasons why people do not purchase non-group insurance, which could include a perceived lack of affordability or value associated with the coverage, a willingness to remain uninsured for a period of time, or restrictions imposed by insurers based on health status.

The findings suggest some of the challenges policy makers may face in considering ways to encourage more people to purchase non-group coverage.

Report (.pdf)