Since 2010, the affordable care act has been in the news for various reasons. First, it was how so many uninsured and underinsured Americans would finally have a chance to have adequate coverage for their families. Then it was how businesses said they couldn’t afford it. Finally, it has been argued that people shouldn’t have to have health insurance. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, there are legitimate reasons why you and your family should be covered by a health insurance policy.
Medical Debt and Bankruptcy
In the United States, over 66% of bankruptcies are due to overwhelming medical bills. Unexpected, life-threatening injury or illness can consume lives, growing at exponential rates. These mountains of debt from doctors, hospitals, labs and pharmacies leave families with little to no recourse but to file for bankruptcy to protect their homes.
The skyrocketing costs for cancer treatment are in the $150,000 range on average. If a young family who is just starting out has a premature infant, they could face a combined bill for both mother and child of almost $65,000. I know I personally would have gone bankrupt when my son was born without good healthcare. He spent 13 days in the NICU and I spent a week in the hospital because of my own complications from his birth. The average family does not have enough put back in savings to cover unexpected medical expenses, much less catastrophic ones.
Uninsured Americans suffer from overall poorer health than insured Americans. The average uninsured person will overlook potentially serious symptoms in fear of the emotional and financial impact of an unwelcome diagnosis. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical for the successful recovery of many diseases, including cancer. Heart disease is one of the major contributors to medical debt leading to bankruptcy, along with stroke. Health insurance coverage can not only defray much of the cost, but it can allow for earlier detection which leads to earlier intervention and better care.
Quality of Care
Patients with no health insurance may not be provided thorough testing when complaining of symptoms, as opposed to patients with private insurance. Private medical practices may not accept patients with no insurance unless they prepay for all services, leaving many without access to quality health options.
Free clinics provide limited services, as they are dependent on government or private funding which has declined in recent years. State of the art testing and the best specialists are luxuries that only the wealthy or insured can afford. Even if specialists provide pro bono services for the indigent, the need far outweighs the doctor’s capacity to give away free services. In some cases, health insurance coverage can literally be the difference between life and death.
So, as you can see, you have a lot to think about when choosing a healthcare policy. The wrong move could cost you everything from your bank account to your home right up to your life.