UNINSURED TO SPEND $30 BILLION, STUDY SAYS

August 26, 2008

Americans who lack health insurance will spend about $30 billion out of pocket on medical care this year, but others -- mainly the government -- will end up covering another $56 billion in costs, according to a new study from researchers at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and the Urban Institute.

The tab to cover all the uninsured would be $208.6 billion -- $122.6 billion more than this year's projected total -- mainly because people with insurance tend to use more health care services, the study found.

With the Census Bureau set on Tuesday to release two major reports on income, poverty and the uninsured, the study is likely to spark debate on health care reform and rising health costs, says the Wall Street Journal:

  • Health care spending accounted for 16.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2007, or about $2.2 trillion, and that amount could nearly double in 10 years, according to federal figures.
  • More of the cost is expected to shift to the government, even as it seeks to shrink large deficits.

The new study estimates the government pays 75 percent, or $42.9 billion, of the amount uninsured patients can't pay -- through Medicaid, the federal-state health-insurance for the poor and Medicare, the federal program for the elderly and disabled, as well as state and local taxes.

Source: Jane Zhang, "Uninsured to Spend $30 Billion, Study Says," Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2008.

 

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