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Sicker and Poorer: The Consequences of Being Uninsured

Sicker and Poorer: The Consequences of Being Uninsured

A new report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured synthesizes the major findings of the past 25 years of health services research assessing the most important effects of health insurance. The report evaluates thousands of citations and 230 research articles to assess the consequences of being uninsured for health status and economic opportunity and concludes that the weight of this large body of research makes a compelling case that health insurance does lead to improved health and better access to care.

The major findings from the paper include:

  • The uninsured receive less preventive care, are diagnosed at more advanced disease stages, and once diagnosed, tend to receive less therapeutic care (drugs and surgical interventions);
  • Having health insurance would reduce mortality rates for the uninsured by 10 15 percent; and
  • Better health would improve annual earnings by about 10 – 30 percent (depending on measures and specific health condition) and would increase educational attainment.