Uninsured include 15% paid well; Md. study finds pay exceeded $50,000


People without health insurance in Maryland tend to be young, unemployed or self-employed, and a member of a minority group, according to preliminary conclusions from a study presented yesterday at the inaugural meeting of the Maryland Health Care Commission.

The preliminary data, from 1996 through 1997, also turned up a few surprises:

Of the uninsured in Maryland, about 15 percent come from households with incomes over $50,000.

The uninsured are twice as likely as those with insurance not to have seen a doctor or received preventive care. However, a majority of the uninsured had received some sort of medical treatment, and 78 percent reported that their health was good or excellent.

Of those who said they had not gotten some needed care because of financial consideration, about four-fifths had insurance. The financial problems could come from deductibles and co-payments, or from services not covered by some policies, the panel was told by Linda Bartnyska, its chief of cost and quality analysis.

A U.S. Census Bureau study reported this week that the uninsured in Maryland increased from 13.4 percent in 1997 to 16.6 percent in 1998 -- the third-fastest rate of increase in the country.

The study by the staff of the health care commission draws on a different survey, taken by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department. It interviewed more people than the census survey did, allowing for more conclusions about the characteristics of the uninsured.

The meeting was the first for the new commission, formed by the Oct. 1 merger of two former regulatory panels, the Health Care Access and Cost Commission, which regulated insurance for small employers and issued HMO report cards, and the Health Resources Planning Commission, which developed the state health plan and granted "certificates of need" for some facilities and services.

The new commission will assume the functions of both of its predecessors.

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