AT&T is showing off its family plan for the 2017-18 school year, but only 20 percent of its customers have used their plan to pay medical bills.
That is far lower than the percentage of Americans who use their plans to pay bills, which is roughly 60 percent, according to a new report from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
The survey found that about 80 percent to 90 percent of Americans do not have health insurance.
The Kaiser Family Study asked about health insurance coverage, and the survey found roughly 90 percent have health coverage for the most common reasons — including maternity and pediatric care, prescription drug coverage and dental coverage.
Only about 7 percent have insurance for mental health, and fewer than 1 percent have coverage for other types of care, the Kaiser Family study found.
The study found that a significant number of Americans are relying on private health insurance, and a significant percentage of those who use it have health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and high cholesterol.
The data is an indication that people are choosing health insurance over other options in light of rising costs, said Jonathan Gruber, a professor of public policy at Harvard Law School and co-author of the report.
Gruber noted that a survey conducted last year by the RAND Corporation showed that Americans who do not buy health insurance are more likely to use other types, such as private or Medicare, and they are more willing to pay more for coverage.
He said the new data, which came out Friday, shows that the percentage with private health plans is still quite high.
While the survey data shows a high percentage of people who do use their coverage to pay their medical bills, Gruber said that should not be seen as a reason to get rid of the health insurance mandate.
It’s important to have a robust marketplace for health care, he said.
“If you can’t buy health care for yourself, that’s a real problem,” Gruber told ABC News.
“There are many people who are going to get sick or who will die.
You have to have some insurance for those folks.
There are other costs associated with that, so that’s not a good reason not to have it.”
The Kaiser survey found a high proportion of people using their health plans to buy insurance, with the vast majority of Americans (70 percent) using their plan as a way to pay off a credit card debt.
The percentage using their coverage as a means to pay health bills also is higher than that of those using private insurance.
About 2 in 3 Americans with private insurance and Medicare do not pay their bills, compared to less than 1 in 5 Americans without insurance and less than 3 in 10 people with private plans.
The survey also found that while the majority of people (56 percent) use their insurance to cover a bill, about one in five (19 percent) do not.
And just 9 percent use their plan because they have no health insurance at all.
The poll also found a significant disparity in the amount of coverage Americans have used to pay the bills, with one in four Americans who are covered through their employer (26 percent) and another in four who are uninsured (24 percent) having a plan that covers their medical costs.
More than half of all Americans have health plans, and more than two-thirds have health care coverage through their job.
About 6 in 10 Americans with employer coverage have health benefits.
More Americans with health insurance use private insurance, than those without.
About one in 10 of those with employer insurance use their policies to pay a medical bill.
About 7 in 10 (71 percent) Americans without employer coverage use their own health insurance plans to cover their medical expenses.
More people have used private health care plans, including plans that pay for things like dental care, than have used health insurance directly.
About 2 in 5 people with health care insurance and just 1 in 10 without do not, according a Kaiser survey from earlier this year.
The new Kaiser survey also shows that just a small percentage of American children are covered by their parents’ plans.
About 1 in 11 children with employer or government coverage are not covered by either health insurance or a parent’s plan, according the survey.
Kaiser noted that the survey showed that one in eight Americans are not using their own insurance plans because of the mandate.
But Gruber pointed out that the Kaiser survey does not include children under age 18.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to release a new plan for Americans to use their medical insurance for the first time on Monday, but it is unclear if it will include a mandate.