The American healthcare system spent more than $35 billion providing uncompensated care to the uninsured population in 2001, an amount that could be used to more effectively subsidize care for those without coverage, according to a study released today by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and the policy journal Health Affairs. Using funds from Medicare, Medicaid and other sources including their own budgets, hospitals provided $23.6 billion in uncompensated care in 2001, or roughly 63% of the total. Physicians provided $5.1 billion in uncompensated care, and clinics provided $7.1 billion, the study found. The implication of the report is that "we pay for care in the least efficient way possible-after people get sick," said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Commission. Americans with health insurance receive more care than their 41 million uninsured counterparts, the study also found; including out-of-pocket payments and uncompensated care, Americans uninsured for a full year spend an average of $1,253 per person on healthcare costs, about half of what was spent for the average individual with full coverage. "Uncompensated care is not a substitute for insurance," study authors said. -- by Jeff Tieman
U.S. spent $35 billion on care for the uninsured
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