20 February 2009

Number of uninsured skyrocketing

Yikes.   According to this report from ThinkProgress, the ranks of the uninsured are swelling at a staggering rate of 14,000 a day.


Granted, it's not exactly surprising, given the 627,000 new jobless week after week, as the newly unemployed tend to rapidly turn into the newly uninsured.  This may improve a bit as the stimulus provision subsidizing COBRA coverage becomes operational.  Admittedly, that's only a stop-gap solution.   Apparently, Max Baucus has scheduled his first hearing on comprehensive health care reform for the 25th (the day after Obama's budget speech).

The impact of the newly uninsured is already being felt in our ER.   Volumes continue to rise, and we are seeing a small but significant increase in the number of "private pay" patients ("private pay" being a euphemism for "no pay.") and also a decrease in the number of commercially insured patients.   I only wonder how bad this will get before a recovery begins or a national health care plan is in place.  I'm not exactly going to hold my breath for either possibility -- it looks like we are probably in for a long, lean year at the very least.


Bill said...

I think one of the (many) problems is that if you are uninsured the costs charged to you seem to be 2-4x as much as the charges that are billed to insurance companies/insured people (or at least accepted as payment by the hospital).

An example is I had a leg MRI which showed as a roughly $3,000 charge on the hospital/radiology bill but the insurance negotiated rate was around $800.

I ended up paying all $800 since I had not met my deductible (which was totally fine by me), but was very happy that my insurance company had saved me almost 75% of the cost just by their rate negotiation.

On the other hand, if I was a "private pay" person, I'd be pretty upset that I'm getting charged almost 4x as much as the person next to me just because I don't have the bargaining power of the insurance company behind me.

I do understand that insurance companies have bargaining weight because of large numbers of people they represent, but that level of discount compared to the uninsured seems crazy and makes me not very surprised that uninsured people have trouble a lot of trouble paying for hospital services.

JimII said...

Aren't all of these people de facto insured by the nation's emergency rooms?

Petr Buben said...

horrible situation. and to have "medical insurance" doesn't mean to have accesible health care. ... I thin to go without medical care is a violation of human rights ... universal healthcare system is the only just, least expensive, solution ... http://friendfeed.com/barackobama , http://my.barackobama.com , http://friendfeed.competrbuben ... "from 2000 to 2008, the price of health insurance rose 95%". source: parade.com