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Health Care Facts

What Does Lacking Health Insurance Mean?

In our society, if you do not have health insurance and you get sick or injured you can still go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic and receive medical care.

You are supposed to pay the bill yourself. But every day thousands of people who lack insurance receives medical care and cannot pay the bill. Hospitals alone delivered an estimated $10 billion to $15 billion in unpaid care in 1995. The cost for this "uncompensated care" is borne by those who have insurance and pay for it. Their premiums get driven up as doctors and hospitals shift the cost of uncompensated care to those who can pay. The growth of managed care - which saves money in part by paying hospitals and doctor's less- is making it increasingly difficult for those providers to offer "free" care to the uninsured.

Not surprisingly, people who lack health insurance are far less likely to go to the doctor for routine care. Studies also show they delay seeking care even when in need of medical attention, do not fill prescriptions and have trouble paying medical bills. They are generally in poorer health, too, in part because they lack access to proper care.


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