March 20, 2007 8:34AM

Health Insurance Do‐​Nots

Kate Bundorf and Mark Pauly examine the issue of the affordability of health insurance.

health insurance is unaffordable for 10.5 percent of adults aged 25–64. For the whole sample, using the poverty line as a benchmark, 71 percent of the currently uninsured population could afford health insurance coverage. Increasing the definition of affordability to family income exceeding three times the poverty threshold, the proportion of “uninsured afforders” declines to 28 percent.

Bundorf and Pauly also present a number of estimates defining affordability thresholds according to the proportion of individuals with similar characteristics who purchase insurance. Using a definition of health insurance as affordable if the majority of people in similar circumstances purchase coverage, the authors find that health coverage was affordable to between 59 and 66 percent of the [un]insured, depending on the characteristics used to define individuals as similar. Using the threshold that 80 percent of similar households purchase insurance, they find that around 25 percent of the uninsured could afford coverage based on peer comparisons.

This is empirical support for the phenomenon that I once described as health insurance do‐​nots.