America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has released a comprehensive survey of the individual health insurance market in this country, and has come to the conclusion that individual health insurance is “more accessible and affordable than is widely known.” It’s hard to view the results as completely unbiased, considering that AHIP is a national trade association for companies that provide health benefits for 200 million Americans. So they do have a vested interest in the health care situation being seen as not-so-dire.
The study results pivot on the central finding that most people (89%) who go through the application process are offered coverage. And most of those people got policies with premiums under $3400/year for single coverage and $7200/year for family coverage, which the group seems to consider affordable.
This pretty closely reflects what we find as health insurance agents in Colorado – most of our applicants do get approved for coverage. But what about the people who don’t apply? Since the study (and our experience with clients) only represents people who are actively trying to get health insurance, it’s leaving out a wide sector of people. These are the people who know that there is no way they will be able to come up with the premiums, or who know that they have a pre-existing condition that would eliminate them from the individual health insurance market. So they don’t submit applications in the first place.
When we only look at the people who are submitting applications to individual insurance carriers, we are getting a skewed view of how affordable and accessible health insurance really is. For the people who never get to the application stage, health insurance is still very much out of reach.