Health Insurance Gaps Cripple Family

September 24, 2002 ( - Some 20% of US households have at least one member without health insurance, a study said.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) said in its report that the uninsured family member’s precarious position ends up hurting the health, emotional well being, and financial footing of the whole family, Washington-based legal publisher BNA reported.

According to the IOM, a family with an uninsured member:

  • is less likely to access timely health services
  • is more likely to suffer financially by getting treatment
  • is more likely to have other children in the family suffer developmentally.

According to the IOM report, roughly 58 million Americans are either uninsured or live with a family member who is uninsured.

Having health insurance coverage for a family is strongly related to family income, the report said.

About 90% of families whose income was above 200% of the federal poverty level have all members insured. Among families with incomes below 50% of the federal poverty level, only 59% are able to obtain coverage for their entire family, the report said.

For 2000, the federal poverty level was $11,250 in annual income for a family of two, and $14,150 for a family of three, according to the IOM.