The Affordable Care Act has been under fire from the conservatives for quite some time now. The relentless barrage of attacks that have been levied against the ACA shows no signs of holding up, but what exactly is their argument based on?
Well, surprisingly, their main argument is that having coverage does not, in fact, make people any healthier, but are these claims substantiated?
It seems counterintuitive to suggest that having access to health care would not have a positive impact on the overall health of the population. The lack of affordable healthcare for Americans has been a persistent problem for a long time now, with low-income families taking the brunt of the problem.
These low-income families have suffered for a long time, which is why plans like Obamacare and Medicaid have been put in place to offer a lifeline to those that need it. To suggest that this healthcare does not increase the longevity of their lives or offer any tangible benefit is a bold claim.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into these matters and explore exactly how the lack of healthcare can affect individuals both financially and medically, with our main emphasis looking at whether or not having health insurance reduces the death rate or has no effect whatsoever.
How does not having coverage affect health care access?
First things, let’s look at how not having health care can affect an individual or a family. In general, those who are not fortunate enough to have access to insurance coverage can expect to have much worse access to care than those that have it.
According to the data, roughly one in five uninsured adults ended up going without the vital medical care that they needed due to the cost of the care that was involved. This brings home the harsh reality of not having access to health insurance and proper medical care.
On top of that, one of the main issues that arise is the lack of preventative care that patients receive. Far too often, there are preventable diseases that go unchecked until it is either too late or much more complicated to treat than it would have been with a simple routine check-up.
Take cancer patients as an obvious example. Typically, this is a disease that has a much higher chance of being cured the earlier it is detected. The longer it takes to get a diagnosis, the more complicated and invasive the treatment usually is.
If left too late, then it may be too late to save the patient’s life. This is an avoidable death and arises purely out of the lack of access to proper health care due to being uninsured.
Health insurance has a real impact on whether people get the necessary care they need and where they get it.
The quality of the care that they receive can also suffer as a result. However, the overriding fact from this is that those that are uninsured are far more likely to postpone vital health care than those that have insurance. As well all know, the consequences of ignoring medical conditions can be severe, with a lot of people, unfortunately, paying the ultimate price.
How many deaths due to lack of healthcare?
The Harvard School of Medicine recently published a journal in the American Journal of Public Health that stipulated that around 45,000 people die each year purely from a lack of health insurance. This is predominantly down to the fact that these people will have little or no access to the medical care that they need.
The vast majority of these 45,000 people die from treatable conditions that would have likely been prevented had they had access to a proper health insurance plan.
Not only that, but the study also goes on to find that Americans that are working age and uninsured have a 40% higher risk of death than those that have private health care insurance—a staggering statistic.
Andrew Wilper, M.D., who is the lead author of the journal and also a teacher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, had this to say on the matter:
“The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socio economics, health behaviors, and baseline health.”
“We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease — but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications.”
These statements offer the frank, bleak truth on the real damage that lack of health insurance is causing on the American population.
What are the financial implications of being uninsured?
Not only do uninsured people have to worry about the health implications of their lack of insurance, but they also have to contend with the financial implications. The uninsured often have to face astronomical medical bills that are completely affordable.
This is one of the main reasons why the uninsured put off going to the doctor to get preventable conditions treated. Simply put, it’s just not affordable.
It’s no surprise that those without insurance are more than twice as likely to have problems paying for their medical bills than those that have insurance.
So what happens to those that cannot afford their healthcare. Ell, it typically comes down to two options. You pay it and struggle with debt, or you opt not to have the treatment and have your health suffer as a result. This is a tough situation to be in and is not all that uncommon for low-income families.
To get an example of costs, people paid an average of $1,355 per year for individual coverage for health insurance in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a sizable amount for low-income families to muster up.
How many people are uninsured?
So now that we know how many people are dying each year as a result of not having healthcare let’s take a look at just how many people are currently uninsured in the USA.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the figures for uninsured adults took a significant drop back in 2013 due to the new coverage options offered by the ACA.
When this rolled out, millions of Americans hopped on the chance to secure health insurance and much lower rates than they previously would have had access to, but since then, the price of premiums has gone back up, and the affordability has once again decreased.
So why was there an increase in uninsured people since then? Trump’s administration removed the mandate that stated people must purchase coverage, or they will face a penalty.
This led to some Americans voluntarily dropping their coverage. On top of that, Medicaid plans have work-requirements that see some of the population become ineligible for those plans.
Fortunately, under the ACA, Medicaid coverage is available to adults with incomes that are below 138% of poverty in the states that have extended their coverage. However, this still begs the question of what happens to people who find themselves just shy of this threshold.