Problems of the Underinsured in the United States Health Care System Essay

Healthcare is one of the top economic and social problems facing not only United States but also many other countries in the world. While there are many issues that modern health care needs to deal with the most common problem are health insurance costs. The rising costs of health insurance together with the rising costs of medical care are impacting many families. Inability to pay bills for medical treatment affects now not only uninsured but also people who pay for medical coverage. According to health care statistics published by HealthCareProblems. rg in June 2008 nearly 50 million Americans is not covered by insurance companies. Another 25 million are underinsured, which means they pay for coverage often very high rates and still encounter hardship paying for medical bills. Many of these people have major health issues and amount of money they owe for medical services is substantial. Among them are people that due to chronic medical conditions or serious illness are not able to change insurance companies and shop around to get better premiums.

To keep coverage they have to agree to pay higher premiums, deductibles and co-payments while at the same moment theirs out-of-pocket expenses are getting higher and higher. Study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund shows that over past four years number of underinsured people has increased 60 percent, among them the biggest percentage is represented by families with incomes under the poverty level, but the group of underinsured middle class families is rapidly growing. The number of the underinsured families with incomes of $40,000 nearly tripled over these years (Health, 2008).

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To categorize person as underinsured many general concepts must be taken to an account but they vary from person to person and depend on circumstances. Researches from the Commonwealth Fund composed definition by looking into percentage of income person spends on their medical expenses. According to the researches underinsured person spends 5 percent income in low income families to 10 percent income on medical bills (Reinberg, 2008). Underinsured person often cannot afford co-payment for doctor visit and therefore they behave similarly to the uninsured patients.

Underinsured person goes to the doctor when it is absolutely necessary; therefore they do not receive preventive care (often not covered by insurance companies) like checkups or lab tests. Similarly underinsured people often do not fill prescriptions as directed, skipping doses of medications or even not following treatment at all. In the survey conducted by Commonwealth Fund 45 percent adults stated that they have hard time paying their bills, sometimes even their health insurance monthly premiums and have collections pending or had them in the past.

Close to 50 percent of people who took part in the survey had to file personal bankruptcy due to medical expenses. Many middle income families reported having serious hardship problems paying for health insurance and medical care. Retirees have to spend their savings (if they have one) just because Medicaid covers so little and with the prices of prescriptions so high older people find themselves in economic hardship. It is obvious that bad situation in the health care industry is getting worse and needs to be taken care of and reformed.

While there are many disagreements on how to structure so needed changes and who will pay for them, many American families lives without appropriate health care. United States became a country where insurance companies are driven only by financial profit and economy is so week that more and more employers decide to make cuts by reducing health coverage for hardworking people. Unfortunately the costs of heath care are constantly increasing and many of reasons that happen is most often just a vicious cycle. For example the under funded government insurance programs drive hospitals to increase their fees.

When uninsured or underinsured people do not pay for medical bills they force medical providers to hire collection companies and therefore raise the administration fees (Bush, 2008). The United States is becoming one of the worst health care systems in the world even though the financial health care expenditures are enormous when comparing to other countries. In looking for sensible solution to the health care problems of today, many sources states that it will be hard to make health insurance affordable without changing the treatment of chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes absorb close to 70 percent health care spending, while half of these health conditions are linked to preventable problems like smoking, obesity or lack or physical activity (Health, 2008). Treatment of chronic diseases is very expensive, but many studies have shown that patients with diabetes focused on their own care improved their health condition just by changing life style, dieting, exercising. Similarly patients treated for asthma showed big improvement after change in bad abits like smoking or physical inactivity. The problems that health care system is facing today could be at least to some degree decreased by allowing people to get access to free or inexpensive preventative care and by promoting healthy lifestyle. Government is just starting to notice this new problem and see that not only uninsured people struggle with health care system. Programs like American Consultants Rx Community included underinsured in its discount prescription project, but programs like this are just one drop in the ocean of needs.

During presidential debate president Obama presented his health care reform plan, in which he mentions cutting health care costs and improving coverage for people with income on the poverty level and poor health condition. His health care reform program also promises to deal with insurance companies and regulate rules, under Obama’s plan insurers would not be able to turn down sick people, would have to exclude pre-existing conditions and would not be able to raise prices of premiums for sick people (Roberts-Grey, 2008). That may be help for many people and step to cure Health care system of United States.


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