The Effects of the Uninsured on the Economy


We face a health care crisis today like we have never faced before.

People are suffering, they are going without critical healthcare, and the effects are tearing families apart. People are going without life saving medication, dying prematurely, and suffering emotionally (Ruth, 2005-2006).Yet our healthcare system leaves 47 million Americans uninsured (Farrell, 2009).

People are unable to afford the high cost of insurance, and this is leaving them without access to healthcare. According to Farrell (2009),“The reason for high cost of care in the united states include factors such as the rising cost of technology, prescription drugs, and high administrative costs from the country’s complex multiple payer system (Farrell, 2009 para.10).

According to the common wealth fund the United States spends double on healthcare per person compared to any other country, and there are as many as 101,000 people dying each year, because they have no insurance (Torrey, 2008). People are going without insurance because of the high cost and this is causing financial, physical and emotional effects.

THE FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE UNINSURED

People are suffering financially, because they do not have access to affordable insurance. According to Farrell (2009) there is someone filing bankruptcy due to healthcare problems every 30 seconds and 1.5 million a year are reported to have hospital bills they cannot afford
(Farrell, 2009).

According to Genzlinger (2008) in “The paths of The Uninsured Take Some Frightful Turns” people are being financially burdened with hospital bills that they cannot afford, and in some cases are forced to sell their personal belongings. Here is one of the stories.

Karen Dove worked as an apartment manager, and because her health was failing her she was not able to do the work that was required of the job. So she had to quit, and as a result she lost her insurance. She eventually started having stomach pains, and goes to a doctor who refuses to treat her because she in uninsured. Karen finally finds someone to treat her, and is diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer, which is usually fatal. Karen has surgery, and is put through the pain of chemotherapy and the cancer goes into remission, but the hospital bills have left her and her family deep in debt. For Karen to pay the hospital bills she has to sell her home and some of her personal belongings and move into a cheaper house. Karen must stay under the care of a doctor for the vital treatment, and medication she needs but after a year the cancer returns, and she passed away March 2008.Certainly if Karen would have had access to health insurance she would have had a better chance of survival (Genzlinger, 2008).

In a piece written by Appleby (2004) “Hospitals Sock Uninsured with much Bigger Bills” she explains how one family let their business health insurance lapse while they looked for a better deal and during this time the man fell sick, and was hospitalized for a viral infection. Now they are faced with $116,000 in hospital bills, which could have been reduced to $25,000.00 if they would have had insurance. When a person is insured their insurance company will negotiate for cheaper rates with doctors, and hospitals. The uninsured do not have this advantage, and are usually charged more for the same services. Ruth (2005- 2006) states “that in 1999 the cost of inpatient treatment of pneumonia for an insured adult patient ranged from $100 - $3,434.00, but $9,812 for a person without health insurance” (Ruth, 2005-2006.p.7).

THE PHYSCIAL EFFECTS OF THE UNINSURED
People are suffering physically, because they are going without preventive healthcare, and screenings. According to Ruth (2005 – 2006 ) “ 50% of uninsured non-elderly Americans are going without preventive healthcare services like pap smears, blood pressure checks, mammograms, cholesterol screening, prostate examines, and sigmoidosopies” (Ruth, 2005-2006 Para. 11). They are also more likely to be diagnosed with some sort of disease that has reached the advanced stage according to (Family USA. 2008). For example, women that do not have regular breast examines are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer (Dying for Coverage Familiesusa.org. 2008). There are approximately 11.4 million uninsured Americans that suffer with some sort of chronic disease, because they are unable to get healthcare which may cause them to suffer with a handicap or even die (Gever, 2008.) Those with chronic conditions are also more likely to go without getting their prescriptions filled due to cost (Cassil, 2005).

THE EMOTIONAL EFFECTS ON THE UNINSURED
People are suffering with emotional problems, because they have no insurance. Ruth (2005-2006) writes how people fear that some illness or accident will happen, and leave them without the ability to financially support themselves, and/or their family members and be faced with hospital bills that they cannot afford (Ruth, 2005- 2006).

According to Ruth (2005 – 2006) in a study done at Harvard School of Public Health, one person made the statement that not having health insurance “ effected us more emotionally than anything… my marriage broke up” and another said it was, “ a tremendous strain mentally, and physically to pay the medical bills” (Ruth, 2006).

Stencil (2002) writes in “Health Insurance Is a Family Matter” that just one uninsured person in a family can affect the mental and physical health of the entire family and children are no exception. Depression in a parent increases the chance that a child will suffer in their grades, they will have problems in socializing, there will be a higher rate of mood disorders like irritability, and unreasonable anger (Stencil, 2002).

The consequences of our broken healthcare system will continue to grow financially, physically, and mentally and will reach more people. “While this problem was formerly a problem confined to low-income Americans, more and more middle class citizens are becoming directly affected by the problem” (The Case For Universal Health Care para.2). The cost will be greater than it is now if there is not a solution found soon and this is why the federal government should provide healthcare for all who cannot afford it.

Some people disagree with this because they say it would need to be funded through higher taxes on “smoking, fast food, etc., leading to a further loss of personal freedoms” (Messerl, 2009), but the number of uninsured has reached 47 million (Farrell, 2009) and is higher than it has ever been. Many people are living week to week not knowing if they will have a job due to the economy creating fear that they will lose their insurance coverage (Ruth, 2005-2006).

Conclusion
The federal government should provide healthcare for all its citizens, because of the financial, physical and emotional effects it is having on hard working families.

There are 47 million Americans falling through the cracks in the health care system. They are suffering with financial, physical and emotional effects because they do not have access to affordable health care. Why does insurance matter? People without insurance are more likely to go without preventive care, to delay or forgo medical care, and to die prematurely. We need to look at this situation like we would look at a highly (contagious disease). Think about what would happen if we let people with Tuberculosis go without treatment. It would spread, and sooner or later everyone would have it and then what would be the cost? You think a universal healthcare plan would cost too much? Think about what it would cost to cure an epidemic! There are many reasons out there that argue for, and against a universal healthcare plan. Out of all the reasons one thing that we all agree on, affordable healthcare is an important issue for us all.

Reference

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Written By, Ginger A. Cole
Paralegal Major
Bryant & Stratton

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