What Are the Financial Risks of Being Uninsured?
They're probably smaller than you think.
Posted Apr 22, 2014
Previously, Chris Conover showed that the medical risk of being uninsured is small:
…[T]he evidence that having health insurance will reduce mortality risk by any significant amount is pretty thin…even if we assume that having coverage reduces the chance of early death by 22 percent, this is comparable to a half dozen other risks that people face. For the same amount as we are spending to expand coverage under Obamacare, we could save eight times as many lives by focusing on other causes of death such as smoking.
See also his analysis of the claim that failure to expand Medicaid kills people and Linda Gorman on the same subject.
In his latest post, Conover shows that the financial risks are small as well:
I have calculated the medical bankruptcy risk facing those with continuous coverage at 1.25 per 1,000. Eliminating this difference would evaporate the risk of medical bankruptcy for 1.89 people out of every 1,000 uninsured Americans every year.
…[I]f having coverage could reduce bankruptcy risk by 1.89/1,000, what would that mean? First, the overall difference in bankruptcy risk (inclusive of medical and non-medical causes) between those with health insurance and those without is 10.7 per 1,000, so eliminating the “excess” risk of medical bankruptcy that we are assuming can be attributed to lack of health insurance coverage would shrink this difference by less than 20%. Perhaps more astonishing, such a reduction would shrink an uninsured person’s overall bankruptcy risk by a mere 11% (from 17.9 to 16.1 per 1,000).
[Cross-posted at John Goodman’s Health Policy Blog]
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For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, please see the Independent Institute’s widely acclaimed book: Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman.