How much medical underwriting occurs?

There should be a name for a post like this. I’m going to give you a little data, extrapolate a bit, and then go limp, letting you draw your own conclusion. In the comments you can suggest what to call this. (Data grenade? Number bomb? Deal and ditch? Share and shrug?)

From Mark Pauly’s Health Reform without Side Effects (ungated):

A recent study by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) of nearly two million applicants for individual insurance showed that only 10% were excluded from coverage by medical underwriting.

Let’s assume that the 1.8 million that were not excluded actually enrolled. Today there are about 14 million individual insurance policyholders in the US. That suggests about 1.6 million experienced medical underwriting.

Given I’ve made some assumptions and based this on one study, I don’t put much faith in my estimate. However, it is not terribly far off from the figure implied by the results of one of my papers.

What does one do with a number like this? It’s a lot of people, many of whom may not be able to obtain insurance any other way. But it’s not a lot relative to the entire uninsured population. And so … ? (See how you could go either way with this, particularly if this is the only problem in health insurance you consider?)

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