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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

  


 

 

High-Income Americans Opt Out of High-Cost Health Insurance

http://mercola.com/2002/dec/4/health_insurance.htm

As health insurance premiums continue to rise, more and more people are opting to take their chances and go without. Of the 41 million Americans currently uninsured, the largest portion is made up of the working poor, but those with high-incomes are quickly joining in, as growth in uninsured wealthy and poor rose almost equally last year.

Reasons why higher-income individuals decide against health insurance range from not wanting to pay the extra expense or getting laid off to not being able to find a policy once sick or being healthy and not seeing a need for it.

Also, those who are self-employed or just retired can have a hard time getting insured as coverage in the individual market is often more expensive and harder to come by than coverage under an employer group.

Economists note that the increase of higher-income people without insurance could have a positive effect on the health care system. Where this was once considered a lower-class problem, the need for a health insurance reform is becoming a more widespread issue. This could fuel debate on the issue, which fell largely out of the public eye after a health reform proposal failed to be passed in 1994.

  


 

However, experts say that there are individual and societal consequences to going without health insurance. Individuals may not get needed medical care and run the risk of bankruptcy. In cases where people can afford insurance but choose not to buy it, they create a societal expense if they go to a public hospital for emergency care, as law mandates that hospitals treat anyone who comes into an emergency room, regardless of their financial situation. Additionally, this reduces the number of healthy people with insurance, which can cause rates to increase overall.

Employers are also affected by rising insurance costs, and if rates continue to go up, many employers may stop offering coverage; many employers are already passing on higher costs to employees.

Several proposals have been made to address insurance concerns. Some favor the expansion of government health programs while others support tax credits to help the lower-income uninsured buy coverage. Another option is a type of single-payer health plan, in which the government guarantees access to health care.

Others suggest making group insurance policies available to individuals or reducing restrictions on the benefits of some insurance policies so that lower-cost policies are available for catastrophic coverage. According to experts, however, finding a solution will be complicated and will be impacted by the slow economy and shortage of the national budget.

USA Today November 22, 2002