Income alone may not be a good predictor of whether families can purchase health insurance and this may lead many programs seeking to expand coverage to overestimate who can afford to buy coverage, according to a study by scientists from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The study examined pooled data from the 2002 and 2003 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Household Component, a nationally representative survey including 23 951 nonelderly families, and found substantial disparities in net wealth between the insured and the uninsured (Bernard DM et al. Health Aff [Millwood]. 2009;28:887-896). For families with access to employer-based insurance, those with insurance had a median income ($53 130) that was 2.9 times higher than for those without insurance ($18 404). But the median net wealth was about 23.2 times higher for those with employer-based insurance ($78 472) than for those who had access to it but were uninsured ($3384).
Kuehn BM. Insurance Affordability. JAMA. 2009;301(24):2542. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.857