What's the Real Cost of Insurance?

One of the most pressing concerns in today's society is the rising price of health care and healthcare coverage. On the one hand, it costs the average worker a significant portion of their wages just to buy and maintain a decent health insurance policy themselves and their family. On the other hand, tens of millions of Americans can only afford to live paycheck-to-paycheck, the idea of a health insurance 'umbrella' to cover them seemingly far out of reach. These individuals are no different tan anyone else – they are not necessarily poor or destitute. (As an example, people holding part-time jobs typically are not eligible for an employer's health insurance plan or other benefits.) They must therefore look for independent coverage elsewhere. And, depending on their age, medical history or other demographics, a private insurance policy may be more than they can reasonably afford. As a consequence, they and their family go uninsured.

Indeed, things can be quite difficult. It's not unusual to be asked to pay several hundred dollars a month for health insurance for the entire family, which means considerably less money left for other living expenses. Unfortunately, families often must make a decision of what's more important or pressing at the immediate time.

Without health insurance, people don't have access to the help they need when they're feeling poorly. As a result, they're forced to let their condition worsen until they have no choice but to go to the hospital, where the cost will always be considerably more than it might have been if they'd had the means to visit a doctor early on. So, people often use the local hospital emergency room as the doctor's office. A community hospital typically accepts patients that don't have insurance on their signature alone; that is, their promise to pay the bill. Unfortunately, however, bills can be quite high, and payment can drag on for an extended period of time.

To combat the costs of uninsured patients, hospitals raise their fees for service, just as any other business would be expected to. These increased charges are passed on to patients having insurance. Depending on the amount that their insurance provider is willing to pay, that could equate to a horrifically expensive hospital bill after only an average stay, even with health insurance coverage.

Children make up a fairly large percentage of the uninsured population. When their parents can't afford health insurance they, of course, go uncovered as well. Over-the-counter medications are usually substituted for regular check-ups by a physician. What's more, statistics show that uninsured expectant mothers who can't afford prenatal care are more likely to develop problems during their pregnancy. Being under a doctor's care during that critical time can not only provide peace of mind due to the availability of immediate help should it become necessary, it can also be highly cost-effective by identifying and treating problems while they're still in their earliest stages.

Although health insurance is undoubtedly expensive and beyond the financial reach of some, the cost of not having insurance can be much higher still. Increased incidents and degrees of illness, higher premiums and hospital charges and, yes, deaths can all be itemized to that bill. This is a serious issue for which a satisfactory resolution will not come a moment too soon.

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