Study: Uninsured are costly for those with insurance

05/28/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The average U.S. family and their employers paid an extra $1,017 in health care premiums last year to compensate for the uninsured, according to a study released today by an advocacy group for health care consumers.

Families USA, which supports expanded health care coverage, found that about 37 percent of health care costs for people without insurance — or a total of $42.7 billion — went unpaid last year. That cost eventually was shifted to the insured through higher premiums, according to the group.

Ron Pollock is the executive director with Families USA. He said last year, the uninsured received approximately $116 billion worth of health care; $42.7 billion of that he says was unpaid. Pollock says that causes insurance companies to increase their premiums to carry the additional costs.

Joining Pollock at his news conference today in Washington was Ron Williams, chairman of Aetna, the one of the biggest insurance companies in the country.

Lisa Grossman is the interim executive director of Florida CHAIN. She said that all of Florida’s families – both insured and uninsured – need genuine health care reform. She said eliminating the "hidden health tax" is part of that reform.

Aetna’s Ron Williams says health care costs are generally 3 to 4 times the underlying rate of inflation.

As Congress will work this summer on a mandate from the president to reform health care, the question advocates of a single payer system ask is if there will be at least some sort of public aspect of the plan.

Larry Gage is president of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, which represents just 2 percent of the nation’s hospital beds in the country but 20 percent of the uncompensated hospital care. He said his group is neutral on the subject.

Families USA contracted with Milliman Inc., an independent actuarial consulting firm, to analyze the data for the report.

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