I have been in the healthcare industry for more than 22 years, working closely with healthcare providers, insurers, employers, their employees and family members. Many individuals may lose sleep worrying about the cost of their healthcare and the continuing rise of their health insurance premiums. However, few insured people ever lose sleep worrying about the uninsured.
I continue to be amazed, in election after election, how the issue of the uninsured always seems to float to the top above costs. What makes the uninsured such a buoyant election issue? What makes it a more buoyant issue than the immediate need to manage rising costs of healthcare, an issue that affects us all, the insured and the uninsured?
Healthcare costs, and its brethren insurance premiums, continue to increase, outpacing inflation and wage increases. Policy experts have clearly stated that covering the 46 million uninsured will cost more, not less, driving our nations healthcare costs well beyond the existing 17% of our gross national product.
We know that individuals without health insurance do not equate to the uninsured not receiving healthcare. The uninsured still receive about half of what the insured doa significant amount, considering that U.S. healthcare consumption is two to three times higher than other developed nations. So while not a perfect system, the existing one does deliver healthcare to the uninsured. More amazing, we also know that most all of the uninsured voters do not actually vote come election day. So why do politicians in critical election years expend so much political capital on the issue of the uninsured, when clearly they are not their voting constituents?
The primary argument I have heard is that it is our moral imperative to cover the uninsured. However, during these tumultuous times, we have many moral imperatives: Darfur, war, the deficit, foreclosures, Wall Street, retirement, education
all arguably just as important as covering the uninsured.
No one minimizes the plight of the uninsured or underinsured. However, there are other areas that desperately need attention in healthcareefficiency, safety, obesity and unhealthy lifestyle choicesin order to curb costs and make healthcare more affordable for everyone.
Group insurance broker, consultant
Cosby Insurance Group