The Uninsured And The Difference Health Insurance Makes

The safety net of community clinics and public hospitals is unable to fully substitute for the access to care that insurance provides.   Research has established that extending coverage to the uninsured improves physical and mental health, reduces mortality rates, and ameliorates financial strain associated with health care costs.

Delaying or forgoing needed care can lead to health problems, making the uninsured more likely to be hospitalized for avoidable conditions.  The uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases—and as a result, many suffer serious consequences.

The cost of health care has grown in the past decade, but represents a particular challenge for those without insurance. Medical bills can put great strain on the uninsured and threaten their physical and financial well-being.  Almost half of uninsured individuals reported having trouble paying medical bills, compared to less than one in four individuals with coverage. In addition, the uninsured are three times more likely than the insured to be unable to pay for basic necessities because of their medical bills.

The Uninsured and Health Reform The ACA addresses barriers to acquiring insurance coverage through expanded access to Medicaid, subsidies for private insurance, and health insurance market reforms. The majority of the coverage expansions in the ACA will take effect in 2014, at which point, there will be a requirement that individuals have health insurance coverage. The law will also prevent insurers from rejecting individuals or charging higher premiums based on health status. By 2016, the ACA is estimated to decrease the number of uninsured by nearly half, leaving far fewer individuals facing the health and financial risks that come with being uninsured.


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