With all eyes on the Supreme Court, with the decision for the healthcare law in the balance, it is time to look at where we stand as insurance companies price more and more people out of the health insurance market.
A recently released report by Families USA brings into sharp focus the costs that a lack of insurance can bring. What they found was that 26,100 people had died in 2010 due to lack of insurance. That is 2.6 people every hour. The states with the largest number of deaths due to lack of insurance are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia.
The reasons for this are varied, but the survey was striking in its answers. For those without insurance, they found that just over half (51%) found it difficult to locate a primary care physician who would take them, while 41% had found that they were turned away from a primary care physician due to lack of insurance. Due to this difficulty in securing a physician, these people are driven to the emergency room for care, the least cost-effective option available.
This then becomes a cycle for these people. An uninsured person is 4 times as likely to delay or forego treatment, with examples given such as a woman is half as likely to have had a prescribed mammogram and all people were 5 times less likely to have had a prescribed colon cancer screening. Due to this delay, the uninsured are significantly more likely to have a life threatening ailment diagnosed at a late stage, when treatment is more likely to cost more, and more likely to come too late, having a 25% higher mortality rate over the insured.
And being uninsured is costly as well. Medical insurance negotiates its costs, while the uninsured pay the unadjusted prices. For the same procedure, as a result, the uninsured pays on average 2.5x as high a price as the insurance company does. The same for prescription medication, with the insurance company many times paying half of what an uninsured person would for the same medication. This is unacceptable, and unsustainable. Something will break, either at the Supreme Court, or in the nation, but it cannot continue to be the status quo.