Study Says Uninsured Are Costly for All


 
 

Erica Werner | | Thursday, May 28, 2009


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The average family with health insurance shells out an extra $1,000 a year in premiums to pay for health care for the uninsured, a new report finds.

And the average individual with private coverage pays an extra $370 a year because of the cost-shifting, which happens when someone without medical insurance gets care at an emergency room or elsewhere and then doesn't pay.

The report was being released Thursday by advocacy group Families USA, which said the findings _ which it calls a "hidden tax" _ support its goal of extending coverage to all the 50 million Americans who are now uninsured. Congress and the Obama administration are working on a plan to do that.

Families USA contracted with independent actuarial consulting firm Milliman Inc. to analyze federal data to produce the findings.

"As more people join the ranks of the uninsured, the hidden health tax is growing," said Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director. "That tax hits America's businesses and insured families hard in the pocketbook, and they therefore have a clear financial stake in expanding health care coverage."

The report found that, in 2008, uninsured people received $116 billion in health care from hospitals, doctors and other providers. The uninsured paid 37 percent of that amount out of their own pockets, and government programs and charities covered another 26 percent.

That left about $43 billion unpaid, and that sum made its way into premiums charged by private insurance companies to businesses and individuals, the report said.

The major government insurance programs _ Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor _ are structured in a way that doesn't easily allow payments to insurers to adjust upward. And somebody has to pay.

Ronald A. Williams, chairman and chief executive of Aetna Inc., gave the example of a local community hospital that provides care to someone without insurance who arrives at the emergency room. When it's not paid for, the hospital has to raise its rates to insurance companies, and they pass that on in higher premiums, Williams said.

"Our members then say, 'Well, why is health insurance so expensive?'" Williams said in an interview. "And the answer is because you're paying for your own care as well as for the care of some of the uninsured in the community."

Aetna was not involved in writing or funding the report but Williams planned to appear at a news conference Thursday with Families USA officials to release its findings.

___

On the Net:http://www.familiesusa.org/




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Operations and Protcols

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Image Trend: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ImageTrend just challenged NEMSIS TAC and a couple others.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.?

A.J. Heightman participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a big way!
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Details on Discipline Released in D.C. Investigation

Interim fire chief claims punishment was not severe enough.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Kentucky Firefighters Recovering from Injuries

One of the four remains in critical condition.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Numerous Rescues during Arizona Flooding

Severe flooding across the region prompted several rescues.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Hiker Rescue

Injured hiker spent three hours in a crevice.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Airlift at Swiss Train Derailment

Helicopters used to help reach the injured.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >