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February 14, 1986

Closing the Gaps in Health Insurance Coverage

Author Affiliations

From the Council on Medical Service, American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1986;255(6):790-793. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370060104028

A CERTAIN segment of the US population can be characterized as "falling between the cracks" in regard to having adequate protection against health care expense. These are persons whose age or economic status precludes their eligibility for protection under tax-supported programs such as Medicare or Medicaid but who find it financially very difficult to purchase adequate health insurance coverage—or any coverage—in the private sector.

Using data drawn from the 1977 National Medical Care Expenditure Survey, which were adjusted to account for improvements in the catastrophic protection offered by group major medical insurance from 1977 to 1984, Farley1 recently estimated that anywhere from 24% to 37% of the US population younger than 65 years lacks adequate health care coverage, with an intermediate estimate of 26.7%, or 50.7 million people. This segment of the population includes persons whom Farley estimates are uninsured all year (9%), uninsured part of the year (9.4%),