Why health insurance is important?

Health insurance protects you from unexpected high medical costs. The amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan starts paying. Trust creates peace of mind and allows you to live your life to the fullest. No matter how young or healthy you are, no one is immune to accidents.

Staying covered allows you to do the activities you love without the stress of a potential injury and without the associated cost burdening you. Nearly half (43 percent) of those surveyed in 2000 believed that people without health insurance are more likely to have health problems than people with insurance. This section presents basic information about health insurance and who lacks it in the context of several widespread popular myths. The purpose of this first report is to provide background for the findings and conclusions that the Committee will present in subsequent reports on the consequences of lack of insurance by including common definitions and an overview of the dynamics of health insurance coverage.

This report addresses the extent to which Americans lack coverage, identifies the social, economic and policy factors that contribute to the existence and persistence of an uninsured population in the United States, and reports on the likelihood that members of various population groups are not insured. This report and the following are intended to provide reliable information, useful both to the public and to political leaders, legislators, employers and program administrators as they face the current challenges of funding health care. In addition to those providers whose patient population includes substantial proportions of uninsured people, together, private physicians, community hospitals, and university hospitals affiliated with academic health centers provide significant amounts of care to uninsured patients (Cunningham and Tu, 1997); Mann et al. The benefits for children of having health insurance and a regular source of care, in terms of routine medical visits and appropriate preventive care, are well documented (Lave et al.

Among those under 65 who are in good or poor health, almost one in five lacks health insurance (Rhoades and Chu, 2000). Even if you eat well, exercise, and are currently healthy, the risk of an accident or illness is always present. A typical source of care may be a doctor's office, a clinic, a health plan center, or a hospital emergency room or an outpatient clinic. Not only do people without insurance receive less care, but the providers who care for them systematically differ from those who treat insured patients.

The Census Bureau began collecting detailed information on health insurance in the second half of the 1970s, and the National Center for Health Services Research, predecessor of the AHRQ, conducted the National Health Care Expenditure Survey (NMCES) in 1977, followed by the National Medical Expenditure Survey ( NMCES) in 1977, followed by the Survey (NMES) in 1987 and the AHRQ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), launched and conducted annually since 1996.This is mainly because they are less often entitled to employment-based insurance because of the nature of their work or their short time in it. Over the past quarter century, the importance of health insurance has grown, as clinical medicine has become increasingly sophisticated, technological advances have become more common, and the range of therapeutic interventions (and their costs) has expanded rapidly.

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