A report today showing an increase in the percentage of uninsured Americans will be fodder for the endless debate over health reform.
There are those who forego insurance premiums in order to put more food on the table and there are those who are just entering the workforce, have relatively modest earnings and have superior health. Others are unprotected because their employers no longer offer health insurance and have nowhere else to turn.
It’s a huge, potentially catastrophic risk the uninsured take, but there is also a large cost to the rest of us when two out of five working-age Americans have no coverage for at least part of the year. Today’s Commonwealth Fund report indicates that a majority of uninsured people with a chronic condition skip or go without necessary medication. The result is they get sicker sooner than the insured and twice as many of them wind up in a hospital, burdening themselves and the entire health system with costs that didn’t have to happen.