Tag Archives: uninsured

CDC survey shows uninsured rate dropping to historic 9.2 percent

The uninsured rate among all Americans in the first quarter of this year dropped to 9.2 percent, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, released Wednesday.

This is estimated to be the lowest rate of all uninsured Americans, of all ages, since 1972, when the center began reporting on that data from the National Health Interview Survey, Reena Flores reported for CBS News. Continue reading

Reporter finds nonprofit hospital’s suit against uninsured patient was just one of many

Dianna Wray

Dianna Wray

In January 2012, EMTs took Ignacio Alaniz by helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital, one of the largest nonprofit medical centers in Texas. Alaniz had been working underneath his Buick Century, trying to get it started. When it rolled over him, he suffered a punctured lung, nine fractured ribs and a broken arm.

“By the time the helicopter landed, he was already $12,196.37 in debt,” wrote Dianna Wray, a staff writer for the Houston Press. Her article about Alaniz, “Getting Stuck: Uninsured Patients Slammed with Lawsuits by Not-for-Profit Hospital,” was recognized as one of the best examples of health journalism in the business (small) category in AHCJ’s Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. In a new “How I did it” article, Wray explains how her reporting led her to many more cases of patients being sued for medical debt and some of the reaction the story generated. Continue reading

Dallas Ebola case raises questions about care for the uninsured

"Ebola virions" by See Source - Charting the Path of the Deadly Ebola Virus in Central Africa. PLoS Biol 3/11/2005: e403 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030403. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ebola virions” from “Charting the Path of the Deadly Ebola Virus in Central Africa.” PLoS Biol 3/11/2005: e403 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030403. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

When Thomas Eric Duncan died Wednesday of Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, one of many questions that remained unanswered was why the hospital didn’t do more to diagnose and treat Duncan initially. On Sept. 25, Duncan walked into the hospital’s emergency room, was given antibiotics and sent home, according to coverage in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere.

The question about what happened on Sept. 25 is important because Duncan could have infected many other individuals between when he was sent home on Sept. 25 and when he returned on Sept. 28 and was put into isolation. Writing in The New York Times, Manny Fernandez and Dave Philipps suggest that Duncan might still be alive if he had been admitted on Sept. 25.

After his death, Duncan’s fiancée, Louise Troh, and other African-Americans, questioned whether Duncan had received substandard care. Continue reading

Hospitals rethink charity for those passing on Obamacare

columbiahospitalThe basic calculation uninsured people had to make this first open enrollment season in the ACA is whether to  get covered – or take the risks of going without health insurance and pay a penalty (unless they are exempt.)

After all, some of them probably figure, they have managed to get discounted or charity care in the past. Why should that change?

It might.

Some hospitals are pondering changes in their policies about how to treat the uninsured, according to an interesting article by Melanie Evans that appears in Modern Healthcare.

The changes they are thinking about won’t affect emergency care; under the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) hospitals have to stabilize someone coming in with an emergency. But it does affect what they may charge people for care, and how and when they provide non-urgent care.

Continue reading

Despite ACA, remember that millions will remain uninsured

Who will still be uninsured a decade from now?

We know millions of people are going to get covered under the Affordable Care Act. But who won’t be?

In 2023 there will still be 31 million uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Who are they?

  • The undocumented (Even in the unlikely event that Congress passes a sweeping immigration bill this year, the path to citizenship will be slow and health coverage won’t come for years.)

  • People whose income is low enough that they qualify for expanded Medicaid but who live in states that have opted not to expand.

  • The rest are people who are exempt from the individual mandate (affordability, etc.) or who just decided they don’t want to be covered and will pay the penalty. Or they are part of the “hard to reach population” that qualifies for government assistance but never quite understand it’s for them or get the help they need to actually enroll.

Remember that it’s not 31 million out of the roughly 48 million who are now uninsured – without the law, the number of uninsured would have kept growing.  Thirty-one million is still a lot of people – and someday Congress may come around to doing something about it (but that someday is not imminent). But as a percentage of the population, it’s a sharp drop.

Right now about 80 percent of the non-elderly are uninsured insured* (the elderly are covered by Medicare). That’s one in five uninsured.

In a decade, 89 percent will be uninsured (92 percent if undocumented people are included). So that’s just a bit over one in 10 remaining uninsured. That’s a change.

Update: If you want the  most current uninsurance rates for the entire population – including the elderly on Medicare – it has dipped slightly to 15.4 percent according to the just-released Census figures. I don’t think the Census bureau does forecasts for future insurance/uninsurance rates – at least I didn’t find them when I searched summary tables of various population growth projections. If someone has them, please email me and we’ll post them.

Here is an article about the remaining uninsured (focusing on clinics that will still have plenty to do in a suburb in Virginia – which isn’t expanding Medicaid, as of now) and a conservative critique of the coverage numbers.

*Correction: Eighty percent of the non-elderly are insured, according to this table from the Congressional Budget Office. An earlier version of this post incorrectly said 80 percent of the non-elderly were not insured.