Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Today's Wall Street Journal ran four articles on various aspects of the individual health insurance market (paid subscription required):
- Individuals Face Hurdles in Health-Policy Search: The individual insurance market is at the center of a debate about how to extend health coverage to more people, a crucial point of disagreement among politicians pushing to solve the issue of the uninsured.
- Insurers' New Target: the Uninsured: Insurers are setting their sights on the 45 million Americans who lack health insurance as their traditional market of selling health insurance to employers shows sluggish growth.
- Many Ailments Can Pose Coverage Problems: Severe medical conditions like cancer, diabetes and HIV can pose formidable, and sometimes insurmountable, barriers to coverage in the individual insurance market.
- Having Insurance Doesn't Guarantee Coverage: Buying individual insurance doesn't mean that coverage of medical treatments is guaranteed. Much depends on state rules and a policy's fine print.
The Kaiser Family Foundation's "Daily Health Policy Report" has a nice summary of the four pieces, including these nuggets:
"It is not clear how expanding the individual insurance market 'would help people whose health isn't perfect and who, arguably, are the most in need of help with medical costs.' There also are 'big holes' in the individual market system, and federal protections do little 'to protect people' from higher premiums and denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. While state-run high-risk pools might offer some relief for uninsured residents with high medical costs, the pools 'have their own problems,' such as high premiums and a low enrollment threshold."
"'Buying individual insurance doesn't mean that coverage of medical treatments is guaranteed; [m]uch depends on state rules and a policy's fine print.'"
"Patients with chronic medical conditions such as HIV, cancer and diabetes might not be able to obtain health insurance coverage, but even patients with less-severe medical problems can face barriers to getting coverage."