Ill Bills

Lack of health insurance isn’t a problem just for the uninsured

The Break-Down

785,000
uninsured Cook County residents

1.7 million
uninsured Illinois residents

45.8 million
uninsured U.S. residents

8%
portion of a family’s yearly insurance premiums that goes toward care for the uninsured

You’ve probably noticed the premiums going up on your health insurance. What you may not know is that the ever-larger chunk coming out of your paycheck isn’t paying just for your family’s care. The insured are also sharing the burden of the uninsured—and the population of the uninsured is growing.

Like everyone else, people without health insurance get sick and incur health costs, but in many cases they can’t pay for all of their care. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that, on average, $1,686 is paid annually for each uninsured American’s medical care. The patients pay $583 themselves. The other $1,103 is shared by hospitals, nonprofits, and the government, which picks up the lion’s share. In Illinois, more than $1.8 billion in health costs for the uninsured was unpaid by patients in 2005, according to Families USA, a health-care advocacy group. The organization expects that amount to grow to $2.6 billion by 2010.

People with insurance pick up part of the tab indirectly through higher premiums. Here are the numbers: In 2008, employer-sponsored health insurance for an average family cost $12,680, of which employees paid $3,354 out of their paychecks. Families USA estimates that more than $1,000 of a family’s yearly premiums go toward care for the uninsured—more than 8 percent. The amount to cover the uninsured is expected to increase to $1,586 by 2010.

In Cook County, nearly 785,000 people had no health insurance (including Medicare) in 2007—16.9 percent of those under 65, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report from August. In Illinois, it’s 1.7 million (13.7 percent); in the whole country, 45.8 million (15.4 percent).

“Access to health care for everyone is critical,” says Barbara Reed, director of development at CommunityHealth, a free care clinic in Chicago for the uninsured. “People who don’t have insurance are sicker people and their lives are much more disease-ridden. During the course of their life they don’t have access to good preventative care, so when they go to the hospital their condition is much more aggravated.” Reed says this leads to long hospital stays, missed days of work, and higher bills.

Reed says CommunityHealth saw a 13 percent increase in the number of patients this year, up to 7,178 total, about 80 percent of whom came from working families.

 

 

Plan Ahead

If you’re not covered by an employer, you can buy an insurance policy straight from an insurance company, although many choose not to because of the expense. Here’s what a sampling of insurers offered for a nonsmoking family of four and for a 30-year-old with no dependents.

 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois

Aetna

UniCare

FAMILY
Monthly premium

Blue Choice Value
$600.84

Managed Choice Open Access 2500
$767.00

Illinois UniCare Fit 1000
$800.00

Deductible

$1,000 individual, up to $2,000 for family aggregate

$2,500 individual, $5,000 family aggregate

$1,000 individual, $2,000 family aggregate

Coinsurance

80% in network, 50% out

80% in network, 50% out

80%

Out-of-pocket max

In network ($3,000 individual, $6,000 family aggregate) Out of network ($6,000 individual, $12,000 family aggregate)

In network ($5,000 individual, $10,000 family aggregate) Out of network ($10,000 individual, $20,000 family aggregate)

$3,000 individual, $6,000 family aggregate

INDIVIDUAL
Monthly premium

Blue Choice Value
$124.30

Managed Choice Open Access 2500
$194.00

UniCare Saver 2000
$111.00

Deductible

$1,750

$2,500

$2,000

Coinsurance

80% in network, 50% out

80% in network, 50% out

70% for preventive care, professional services, and hospital services*

Out-of-pocket max

$3,000 in network, $6,000 out of network

$5,000 in network, $10,000 out of network

$3,000

 

Share

Advertisement

Submit your comment