Fewer than half of high earners with children and no access to group health coverage buy their own individual or family coverage.

Even in families with children and annual incomes at least 5 times greater than the federal poverty level, only about 40% to 45% buy their own coverage, according to Paul Jacobs and Gary Claxton, researchers at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif.

The percentage of workers without group coverage who buy their own coverage tends to be lower for single workers, and it’s much lower at lower income levels, the researchers report.

The researchers looked at insurance coverage held between 2000 and 2003.

Only about 6% of all workers without group coverage and incomes at the federal poverty level–$18,660 for a family of 4 in 2003–bought non-group coverage, the researchers found.

At 4 times the poverty level, only about 28% of all workers without access to group coverage bought their own coverage. Even among those with incomes 10 times the poverty level, fewer than half purchased coverage in the non-group market.

Among people without other coverage options who were self-employed, who could deduct their health insurance premiums from their taxable income, most remained uninsured until incomes exceeded 4 times the poverty level, the Kaiser researchers report.

Parents of young children were somewhat more willing than other consumers without group coverage to buy coverage.

At 6 times the federal poverty level, more than 40% were willing to buy coverage, compared to less than 15% of families with children and incomes at 3 times the federal poverty level, the researchers report.

The low purchase rates for non-group coverage suggest “that many do not find available policies attractive at current premiums,” the researchers write.

To encourage more people to buy non-group coverage, the government may need to offer substantial subsidies, the researchers conclude.

A copy of the report is available