Total medical costs for uninsured Americans will total nearly $125 billion this year, and about one-third, or $40.7 billion, will be uncompensated, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured said. Federal, state and local governments will fund about 85% of the uncompensated care -- primarily in the form of disproportionate-share payments to hospitals. Of the $125 billion, the uninsured will pay roughly $32.6 billion out-of-pocket, while public and private insurance for individuals covered for only part of the year will contribute $51.3 billion. Securing full healthcare coverage for the estimated 43.6 million uninsured Americans would increase medical spending on the uninsured by $48 billion in 2004, bringing the total to $173 billion, the commission said in a new report. "When one considers the modest share of this spending to the nation's economy and the long-term economic benefit of good health, $48 billion appears to be a sound investment," the authors said. Read the report.
Separately, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), citing data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the average annual premium for health insurance more than doubled under the Bush administration. In connection with Cover the Uninsured Week, his campaign announced, Kerry will spend the next several days discussing healthcare in speeches and public events. -- by Jeff Tieman