About 10.9 million Americans under age 65 purchased individual health insurance policies at some point in 2006, but only 7 million were covered by these policies for the full year, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The 3.9 million individuals who had individual health insurance policies for part of the year were covered for about six months on average.
AHRQ's analysis also shows that of Americans who bought individual policies for part of the year, nearly 44 percent were able to obtain coverage for the full year because they or their spouse got a job that offered health insurance or they had incomes low enough to quality for Medicaid or other public insurance. Most of this coverage came from employers.
- Forty percent obtained employer-sponsored health insurance.
- Three percent enrolled in Medicaid or other public insurance.
- Less than 1 percent obtained both employment-based insurance and public insurance.
People buy individual health insurance generally because they can't get insurance from their employers, have lost a job that offers insurance, or do not qualify for Medicaid or other public programs.
AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Length of Coverage in the Individual Health Insurance Market for the Non-Elderly U.S. Population, 2006, MEPS Statistical Brief 227 (http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/st227/stat227.pdf).