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I: The Impacts of Being Uninsured

I-1, Being Uninsured 

People without insurance coverage have less access to care than people who are insured. One in five uninsured adults in 2021 went without needed medical care due to cost. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that uninsured people are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases.

Some reasons people do not get health insurance:

  • Not affordable

  • Not eligible for particular types of coverage

  • Do not think they need or want it

  • Signing up is too difficult or confusing

  • Cannot find a plan that meets their needs

  • Are subject to a waiting period for coverage to start

  • Delays due to bureaucratic red tape or system glitches

  • Job loss, gaps in employment

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I-2, Being Uninsured 

What are the financial implications of being uninsured?
The uninsured often face unaffordable medical bills when they do seek care. In 2021, uninsured non-elderly adults were over twice as likely as those with private coverage to have had problems paying medical bills in the past 12 months. These bills can quickly translate into medical debt, since most people who are uninsured have low or moderate incomes and have little, if any, savings.
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Can medical bills affect your credit rating?
Patients and their families are contacted by debt collectors about medical bills more than any other type of debt, and it commonly results in negative information appearing on credit records. In fact, in 2021, 43 million people had allegedly unpaid medical bills on their credit reports.
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As of April 11, 2023, the large credit reporting agencies will no longer report medical collection debts below $500.
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Bankruptcy and Health Insurance

Two thirds of bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical debt.


I-3, Being Uninsured 

Examples of How Lack of Health Insurance Coverage May Negatively Affect Health

Uninsured People:

Did you know? Those who are uninsured or underinsured often find themselves delayed in emergency rooms. There are many more facts and myths about healthcare found here.


During the federal Public Health Emergency, COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and treatment services were available to most people without cost-sharing. Testing and vaccines were available for free even for those without insurance. However, these policies have now lapsed. Once the federal government stops purchasing or distributing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the ability to obtain these services for little to no cost may stop.
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These and associated educational materials have been developed using our available resources. They are not intended to serve as advice or recommendations on selecting a specific type of coverage or plan. Any errors or omissions are unintentional.


These materials were supported by funds made available by the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s Office of Health Equity from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for STLT Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce, under RFA-OT21-2103.


The contents of these materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of or endorsement by the Kentucky Department for Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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