Gaps in Health Insurance: Why So Many Americans Experience Breaks in Coverage and How the Affordable Care Act Will Help
The Commonwealth Fund Health Insurance Tracking Survey of U.S. Adults finds that one-quarter of adults ages 19 to 64 experienced a gap in their health insurance in 2011, with a majority remaining uninsured for one year or more. Losing or changing jobs was the primary reason people experienced a gap. Compared with adults who had continuous coverage, those who experienced gaps were less likely to have a regular doctor and less likely to be up to date with recommended preventive care tests, with rates declining as the length of the coverage gap increases. Early provisions of the Affordable Care Act are already helping bridge gaps in coverage among young adults and people with preexisting conditions. Beginning in 2014, new affordable health insurance options through Medicaid and state insurance exchanges will enable adults and their families to remain insured even in the face of job changes and other life disruptions.