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.