According to research from The Commonwealth Fund, 125 million Americans are either underinsured or uninsured. This means roughly 35% of the American population between the ages of 19 to 64 are either subjected to unreasonably high health costs from providers that don’t handle expenses with reasonable coverage, or not covered by insurance at all. If healthcare is a right, these statistics sure don’t seem like it. Let’s continue to break down these stats.
The number of uninsured Americans is staggering. In 2003, it was reported that 45 million American adults had no health insurance at all. Additionally, 16 million American adults were underinsured. Uninsured statistics from the U.S. Census in 2018 didn’t fare much better, with a whopping 27.5 million Americans reporting being without insurance for the entire calendar year, and 7.9 percent of the population reporting they were underinsured or uninsured. When someone is underinsured, major, devastating, and unforeseen healthcare expenses can be unjustly high. We expect our insurance to give us peace of mind through all of life’s uncertainties because let’s face it—life is hard. That’s why we invest in it in the first place. But how can it really be trustworthy when it’s so situational and flippant? This doesn’t seem like a fair trade-off. Healthcare should always be as accessible and affordable as possible, no matter the condition.
How Do the Uninsured Populations Impact Healthcare Costs?
The line that defines the insured and underinsured population loses its differentiation due to recent trends that place complications on financial security. What we mean by this is that cost-sharing and out-of-pocket expenses are rising for everyone. Surprising billing—the lack of healthcare transparency—is making things a bit risky, unreliable, confusing, and disappointing. This is not only a threat to the financial aspect of healthcare. More gravely, it’s a threat to healthcare as a whole. When the cost of care is way too expensive, it places boundaries and closed doors to optimal health and wellbeing.
Underinsured or uninsured people probably don’t have access to prescription drug coverage, dental, or vision benefits. These are all basic and necessary routines that shouldn’t be up for debate.
The term “uninsured” can be a bit murky. There seems to be a lack of information, research, and study that can yield a clear definition. However, as The Commonwealth Fund states an underinsured person can be identified as, “…one who has health coverage all year but also meets one of three conditions:
1) annual out-of-pocket medical expenses amount to 10 percent or more of income;
2) for low-income adults with income under 200 percent of the federal poverty level, out-of-pocket medical expenses amount to 5 percent or more of income;
3) health plan deductibles equal or exceed 5 percent of income.”
What Happens When Someone Doesn’t Have Health Insurance?
Remember how we said that high healthcare costs are a major threat to healthcare as a whole? Well, it’s no secret that underinsured people will just skip out on their needed treatments and prescriptions altogether. More than half of the uninsured, as well as the underinsured population, go without necessary care because it is simply not an option for them. The financial stress is just too demanding and unbearable. In fact, nearly one-half of the underinsured population reported being contacted by a collection agency due to unmanageable medical bills. Lifestyles have to be changed in order to accommodate for such weighty expenses.
We know we can’t single-handedly reform the healthcare system overnight. But, what we can do is help you be prepared, aware, researched, and knowledgeable. That is a promise. ZeaMed works to equip you with the right knowledge needed to rise above. With ZeaMed, you can shop for healthcare price and service options rather than just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Financial insecurity is much too big of a problem to approach blindly, so we’ve got your back. Check out our app and see how your options for care can be tailored to your needs.