Americans Opt Out of High-Cost Health Insurance
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
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
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
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
There is clearly no
question that we have an ever-increasing insurance crisis in
this country for medical coverage. Please don’t let the
media persuade you otherwise -- this problem is only going to
Until a radical change
in the paradigm occurs, health care costs will continue to
escalate. The traditional media will, of course, claim that
the solution is to levy some new tax to provide these health
care benefits to those that cannot afford them.
This is a prescription
for disaster. Another socialized medical system will only
repeat the Medicare catastrophe we already have.
The solution is to
change the entire system. Unless we change the system, drug
companies will continue to extract hundreds of billions of
dollars from our economy with virtually no benefit -- other
than making themselves richer.
Our country will become
increasingly unable to support such an expense without major
sacrifices by millions of people.
The solution is to
redirect the spending to care that will build the health of
the country and provide people with the energy to be more
productive. The extra productivity would theoretically create
more than enough additional wealth to pay for all the health
care that we would need.
When our nation is
focused on health achievement, rather than disease treatment,
the total cost of providing medical care would dramatically
decline, because healthy people require less medical