Problem of Uninsured Not Limited to Individuals, Opinion Piece States
"One of the most insidious effects of the large uninsured population in our nation is that it wears down the medical system's ability to provide health care services to all Americans, even those with insurance," Mary Sue Coleman, a biological chemistry professor at the University of Michigan and co-chair of an Institute of Medicine committee that recently examined the issue of the uninsured, writes in a USA Today opinion piece. She adds that cities with large numbers of uninsured residents "risk losing doctors, on-call coverage by specialists and health facilities and hospitals because of the uncompensated costs of caring for the uninsured." According to Coleman, without "some form of universal health coverage," the United States faces economic losses of between $65 billion and $130 billion per year as a result of "poorer health," earlier deaths, lost job productivity and "financial stress" for families. She writes that if uninsured residents "had the same health care" as those with health coverage, current total U.S. health care spending of $1.2 trillion would increase by 3% to 6% or $34 billion to $69 billion per year. According to Coleman, the committee she co-chaired recommended that the United States implement a health care system that is "universal, continuous and within the financial means of individuals and families"; is "affordable and sustainable for society"; and promotes "access to high-quality care." She concludes, "The lack of health insurance for so many of our fellow citizens threatens the fabric of America's health care system. It is a problem that no longer can be ignored" (Coleman, USA Today, 2/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.