Cost Factors - Treating the Uninsured/Underinsured

Despite the economic prosperity of our country, more than 44 million Americans do not have health insurance. Closer to home, about 12 percent of the state's 2.7 million people are uninsured. The growing number of uninsured has two effects on your premium.

First, the people most likely to drop insurance tend to be those who are healthy and believe they can get along without it. As healthy people leave the insurance system, the people left with insurance tend to be those with more health problems. This causes overall premiums to increase more rapidly for those maintaining coverage.

Second, while these people might not have health insurance, they still have health care needs. However, they often delay treatment until a condition worsens and becomes more expensive to treat. When they do seek treatment, it tends to be in the most expensive place: the emergency room.

Doctors and hospitals understand that they often treat patients who don’t have the ability to pay their bills. Health care providers shift those uncollectable costs to those who can pay: people with insurance.

Likewise, public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid generally pay much less than private insurance for medical services. Again, health care providers who are not paid enough for providing these services shift more cost to those who have private insurance.

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