Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Survey: 57 percent of people in low-income families have no health insurance

The Commonwealth Fund today released the results of a new survey on the uninsured. Among the group's findings:
  • 57 percent of people in low-income families (those earning less than about $30,000 for a family of 4) had no health insurance at some point last year.
  • 35 percent have been uninsured for two years or more.
  • Among moderate-income adults (about $30,000 to $56,000 for a family of 4), some 36 percent of adults in those families were uninsured during the past year.
None of this should come as a surprise. We do our own report on the uninsured in Washington state, and income is by far the largest factor correlated to being uninsured. The less you make, the more likely it is that you don't have health insurance.

We've also found that in most income brackets, the younger you are, the more likely that you're uninsured. See the report link above for more data and details.

Car sharing and usage-based insurance bills move forward

Everyone in Washington state is required to have basic liability insurance if you own a car. Well, here's two bills that could impact how you get insurance and how much you pay for coverage.

The first, House Bill 2384, creates an insurance framework for peer-to-peer car sharing programs. Several other western states (OR, CA) have passed similar bills. Here's how it would work: You sign-up with a program to share your car when you're not using it. Your financial liability for the car transfers to the program during the time it's in use. Of course you still need insurance coverage for when you're driving your car, but the program is responsible for having insurance coverage for any car in its use. The bill report has all of the details if you want to know more.

Next is an issue we've seen before: Usage-based insurance (House Bill 2361). Nothing prevents an insurance company from creating a usage-based insurance product today, but under our state law, all auto insurance products and why they cost what they do is public once the premiums are approved by our office.

Certain information is considered confidential (ie. those pesky credit scoring models) but only if they've been carved out in state law. This bill would allow insurers who want to offer a usage-base product the ability to keep their products confidential. Also, there would be limits on how the insurance company could use your information and they couldn't sell it to anyone.

So why should you care? Well, you could get your rates reduced depending on how you drive. This means: the amount of miles, where you drive, the time of the day you drive, your speed, etc. Of course it goes both ways - if you have a lead foot or tend to brake hard, you could see your rates go up. Here's the full details.

Both bills must pass a February 14 deadline to stay alive.