Need Health Insurance? Good Luck
USA Today (07/31/01) p.3B; Appleby, Julie

Health insurance has become a difficult market for individuals who do not suffer from serious health problems, such as hay fever, temporary depression, or asthma. Insurance companies may see such individuals as bad financial risks and turn them down or price coverage out of their reach. The individual market has gained more attention of late, now that the Bush administration and some members of Congress are considering offering tax credits as a way to help people buy insurance. However, the proposals are offering tax-credits that range between $1,000 and $2,500, and critics have responded by saying those amounts are not enough to cover comprehensive insurance. Additionally, critics charge that the tax credits could worsen the problem if it encourages employers to drop coverage. The individual market serves some 16 million Americans, who tend to be those between jobs, have lost their coverage as a result of divorce or death of a spouse, part-time workers, early retirees, and employee whose employers do not offer coverage. The research and education group Kaiser Family Foundation released a study in June that had 19 insurance companies consider the applications of seven hypothetical insurance patients. No matter how healthy the patients were, all were turned down at least some of the time, and the average premium quoted to the applicants was $4,104 in New York.

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