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What Is It Like To Live Without Health Insurance?
Living without health insurance can be a real life nightmare. This nightmare claims around eighteen thousand every year in the United States, whose deaths are directly linked to a lack of health insurance. Although most developed nations provide wide access to health care insurance for their citizens, imagining that you were not covered, just for a brief thought experiment, consider how many additional costs and challenges would be in your life. For example, you would be significantly more prone to experiencing:
Extended waiting for Medical Services
Due to their own budget cutbacks, many hospitals are forced to turn away the uninsured. In order to get access to simple treatments, uninsured patients can find alternative retail clinics where treatments are discounted, but these establishments are overloaded and also lack funding. In such cases, uninsured patients can expect to wait behind hundreds of others (as there are almost fifty uninsured Americans bound to get sick at some point).
Extended Suffering from Common Illnesses
Without health insurance, many cannot afford simple doctors’ fee or antibiotics for their yearly (or more often) bouts with bacterial flu. So instead of paying a quick forty dollar co-pay, the uninsured often have to go on weeks suffering from simple, curable illnesses. Imagine having to weigh so many variables in your decision-making process every time you get that sore throat that you just can’t shake.
Similarly, uninsured patients with chronic illnesses have been known to compensate for their high prescription medication costs by taking them less often than prescribed, so that they ‘last longer.’ Taking medications differently than directed by your doctor is outright dangerous and can seriously prolong suffering or have other unintended side-effects.
Drastic Emergencies and Complications
Since there is often incentive (at least financially) for the uninsured to postpone doctors’ visits, as mentioned above, preventive care often falls to the wayside as well. In both of these cases, the care that you may seek at the last minute is bound to require more drastic medical interventions and end up costing significantly more in emergency hospital bills. Uninsured adults are four times more likely to use emergency rooms as their most regular source of care. Not only does this represent a severe health risk, but it threatens the entire livelihood of your family who could end up paying off huge medical bills for an extended period of time. At what price does the risk of emergency complications outweigh the monthly cost of a health insurance premium?
With these morose financial and physical challenges to face, imagine that these would also be the fate of your spouse and your children. In such an imaginary scenario, living without health insurance is a real life nightmare indeed. Most studies on the subject, including one hundred of them analyzed by the American College of Physicians here, point to the major health risks created by a lack of health insurance. In short, living without health insurance is putting your health at risk, even though it’s a reality for millions across the globe.
About the author: This is a guest post by freelance writer Kate Simmons for health.com.au who provide private health insurance choices. Kate regularly covers health, lifestyle and health insurance.