Insurance and Uninsured
In 2004, California became the first state in the nation to adopt a law providing paid leave to care for a sick family member, but awareness and utilization of the state's Paid Family Leave Insurance program remain low, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers found that only 18% of survey respondents -- parents of seriously ill children undergoing treatment at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA -- were aware of the law.
The authors maintained that California policymakers had failed to maximize the benefit of the program in part by not adequately publicizing it and not requiring a wider education campaign about the law's provisions (Schuster et al., Journal of the American Medical Association, 9/3).
In 2008, uninsured Americans receive approximately $86 billion in medical services, with uninsured people paying about $30 billion out-of-pocket for health care, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs.
Putting the findings in the context of overall health care spending, researchers found that uncompensated care accounts for about 2.2% of health care spending and that the federal government covered about 75% of the cost of uncompensated care.
The authors estimated that expanding coverage to all Americans would cost $208.6 billion annually and cited findings from other research suggesting that savings could be realized by improving administrative efficiency and the health of U.S. residents (Hadley et al., Health Affairs, 8/25).