It is critical for individuals and families to have health insurance. While it may seem worthwhile to skip out on paying monthly premiums, researchers have noted that taking this stance will only prove futile. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), approximately 50 million Americans are uninsured. Every year, nearly 2 million uninsured Americans are hospitalized. Nearly 58-percent of these hospital stays resulting in bills of more than $10,000, most uninsured people are unable to afford potential hospital bills. Even with families that are at 400% of Federal Poverty Level ($88,000 for a family of four) are likely to afford only 12% of their hospital bills.
A common misconception is that if you are uninsured, you wouldn’t receive quality healthcare. While many providers can refuse to treat uninsured patients, federal law mandates under EMTALA, emergency departments are required to assess and treat patients with emergent complaints. This law does not mean that they are required to provide preventative treatment. If you are uninsured, you can access care through an emergency room, but do not expect it to be comparable to receiving care from a primary care physician. Emergency rooms have often been the access point for the uninsured population. This further compounds the strain on the healthcare system and threatens the availability of our emergency resources. Nonetheless, patients are still left with a bill at the end of the day.
The Affordable Care Act will offer more Americans to access primary, preventative care. What this means is that by paying premiums upfront, this can reduce both individual debt and reduce silos of care across the healthcare systems. Preventative care reduces the likelihood of chronic health disparities in the future. Being healthy now by accessing insurance through the healthcare marketplace can prove that it pays to invest in your health. Americans shouldn’t be one hospital bill away from bankruptcy.
Not only does having health insurance improve health outcomes, research shows that people who have insurance coverage are less stressed and aren’t as likely to be depressed. Sometimes it may be overwhelming when trying to plan and make the best decisions to ensure the well-being of our families. From several points of perspective, health insurance can ensure that we remain healthy both physically and financially.