TABLE 2-3 Median Total Net Assets Among Nonelderly and Elderly Households by Poverty Group, 2008

Under Age 65 Age 65 and Older
All incomes: Median Net Assets $20,151 $146,334

Poor (<100% poverty)
     Percentage poor 13.8% 10.3%
     Median net assets $0 $20,686
Low Income (100-199% poverty)
     Percentage low income 17.4% 26.1%
     Median net assets $2,341 $77,301
Middle Income (200-399% poverty)
     Percentage middle income 31.5% 29.0%
     Median net assets $15,518 $136,472
High Income (400% poverty)
     Percentage high income 37.3% 35.7%
     Median net assets $133,838 $355,370

SOURCE: Analysis of MEPS 2008. Poverty uses CPS definition of family. Assets include the net value of financial and nonfinancial assets, including real estate. Banthin and Bernard (2012) (in Part III of this volume).

Should the Census Bureau Consider Adjusting Medical Care Spending for Underspending by the Uninsured?

Measuring the actual economic burden of medical care, as is done in the expanded SPM reports recommended here, will underestimate the impact on uninsured people who may spend less than judged medically necessary, given their health care needs, because they cannot afford medical care.6 The ITWG suggested that the Census Bureau investigate the “pros and cons” for the SPM resource definition of making an upward adjustment to medical care spending for the uninsured, based on what they might have spent if insured, considering their age and health status (Interagency Technical Working Group, 2010). Such an adjustment would point out that the uninsured are at risk even if they did not incur medical care expenses.

The panel agrees with the need to include the uninsured in any assessment of people who are at risk for going without needed health care


6 In speaking about spending for medical care received by uninsured people, we mean incurring medical expenses without regard to whether the bills are paid or not. To the extent that the uninsured are unable to pay or incur medical debt and unpaid bills, the current questions added to the CPS ASEC may actually undercount medical care economic burden because the survey asks about actual out-of-pocket expenses for medical care. Efforts to assess prospective risk would look at the risk of incurring medical expenses regardless of whether the expenses are paid.

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