Insurance Essential for Good Health, Well-Being

Report calls on policymakers, public to address uninsurance problem
By Andrea Mongler
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Having health insurance is vital for health and well-being, and when rates of uninsurance are high, even insured people are more likely to struggle to obtain necessary care, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine released online Feb. 24.

According to the report, "America's Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care," in 2007, one in five non-elderly American adults and almost one in 10 children had no health insurance. Insured children are more likely to have access to care, immunizations, check-ups, medication and more, and serious problems are more likely to be identified early.

The report also states that uninsured adults are much less likely to receive preventive services that can decrease unnecessary illness and premature death, and uninsured adults with serious disease or injury are more likely to suffer poorer outcomes and premature death. In addition, a high rate of uninsurance can have a large financial impact on health care providers that affects cost, quality and availability of care even for people with insurance.

"Policymakers and the public can no longer presume that those without health insurance are getting the care they need through safety-net services such as charity care and emergency departments," Lawrence S. Lewin, chair of the committee that wrote the report, said in a statement. "The evidence clearly shows that lack of health insurance is hazardous to one's health, and the situation is getting worse because of the erosion of employment-based health coverage. The nation must act now to solve the uninsurance problem."

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