I: 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 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
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.
Learn more: https://kff.org/uninsured/issue-brief/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/
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.
Learn more: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/medical-debt-anything-already-paid-or-under-500-should-no-longer-be-on-your-credit-report/
As of April 11, 2023, the large credit reporting agencies will no longer report medical collection debts below $500.
Learn more: https://cnet.com/personal-finance/higher-credit-scores-new-medical-debt-rules-could-give-a-boost/
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
Are less likely to receive preventive care, see a healthcare professional for a medical need, follow through with medical recommendations, or fill their prescriptions. They are more likely to be hospitalized for avoidable problems and when they are hospitalized, they get fewer tests and are more likely to die than people who have health care coverage.
Learn More: https://www.kff.org/uninsured/issue-brief/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/
Have cancers diagnosed at later stages.
Learn More: https://www.fightcancer.org/policy-resources/costs-cancer-among-uninsured-people-0#
Are sicker and die earlier than those with insurance.
Learn More: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2323087/#
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.
Learn more: https://healthsystemtracker.org/brief/most-private-insurers-are-no-longer-waiving-cost-sharing-for-covid-19-treatment/
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.