A Low-Cost, Limited-Benefit Policy for the Uninsured: If You Build it, They Will Come
During 1996 and 1997, the National Health Foundation led a coalition of private sector organizations to test the feasibility of developing a low-cost primary care-only insurance product for uninsured Los Angeles County residents. Project staff conducted:
- Research on insurance product design.
- Focus groups with potential consumers.
- Meetings with health plan representatives, provider groups, and community and small business organizations.
The National Health Foundation, based in Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care delivery and access.
Enrollment in other states' programs was relatively low, except in several highly subsidized programs.
Enrollee dollar contributions varied among existing programs because of different subsidy levels, yet benefit structures appeared relatively comprehensive, including some inpatient coverage.
Subsidization of individual enrollees was typically based on threshold income levels, with enrollees above 175 percent or 200 percent of the federal poverty level receiving no subsidy.
Focus group participants were generally interested in low-cost insurance products, and valued insurance as a concept.
Focus group participants generally preferred a full-benefit product, but a low-cost primary care-only insurance product was not rejected and was generally preferred over catastrophic and preventive care products.