Heavy Price Paid for Lack of Coverage. (Health Insurance)

USA TODAY, February 2003 | Go to article overview

Heavy Price Paid for Lack of Coverage. (Health Insurance)


When 41,000,000 people lack health insurance, it is not just the uninsured and their families who suffer, cautions a group of organizations sponsoring Cover the Uninsured Week (March 10-16). The impact is felt on the nation's economy and health care system, as well as in the communities in which they live. Not having health insurance is a leading cause of personal bankruptcy. Moreover, the large number of uninsured patients often overwhelms hospital emergency rooms and other health facilities.

People without health insurance get sicker and are more likely to die sooner than those who have it. those who have insurance tend to have better health and receive better, more-timely care across a range of preventive, chronic, and acute care services than those who do not. In a study of more than 28,000 patients, those without insurance were more likely to be diagnosed with skin, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers at a later, more-dangerous stage than those with insurance. All of these cancers can be detected earlier through regular screening--an option usually unavailable to the uninsured. According to another study of breast cancer patients, uninsured women had a 49% greater chance of dying following diagnosis of the disease than did privately insured women.

Also, for uninsured Americans with chronic conditions, lack of access to needed care results in more medical crises and emergency hospitalizations. People without insurance are up to 70% more likely to be hospitalized for ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, pneumonia, and bleeding ulcers than those with insurance. …

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