Health insurance affordability re-examined

New tactics emerge for assessing healthcare affordability

The long running debate about the number of Americans that can afford healthcare and those who do or do not choose to subscribe to health insurance even if they can pay for it has been at the center of political storm for some time.

Traditionally, studies have used income levels to determine the affordability of health insurance and the likelihood a family would subscribe to group health insurance plans if offered.

But now, the HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggests that a family's net worth may be a more accurate predictor of whether or not a family can afford to pay for health insurance.

The study, called Wealth, Income, and the Affordability of Health Insurance, out this month in the Health Affairs publication says a family's total value of savings and other assets less debt is a more precise way to understand healthcare affordability.

"This study has important implications for defining who can afford to pay for health insurance in the next wave of health care reform," said AHRQ director Carolyn M. Clancy. "We need accurate, evidence-based findings to ensure that we are providing policymakers with reliable information."

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Posted: May 12, 2009

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