• Home page of novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • About author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Books by novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Reviews of the writing of author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Blog of author William (Bill) S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Contact author William S. Frankl, M.D.
Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Is Universal Health Care Necessary?

It’s likely that some form of government-provided or government-mandated health insurance will be enacted or at least seriously considered by the Obama administration. The major reason for this is the often cited figure of 46 million Americans without health insurance. But what does this number mean? Does our entire health-care system need to be remade in order to protect the uninsured?
Most Americans believe that the uninsured are too poor to purchase insurance and that government programs aren’t available to them. But studies have shown that 25 % of these uninsured are actually eligible for existing public coverage, and another 20% could afford coverage on their own. Using these figures, roughly 25 million people actually need assistance in order to obtain health insurance.
There are other common misperceptions: that the uninsured don’t get health care and when they do, they don’t pay for the care they obtain. A California study demonstrated that among uninsured California residents with household incomes at least twice the poverty level, 50% received medical care during the last year for which they were charged. This study also found that 89% of these people were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their medical care, and only 15 % of them utilized the emergency room rather than a doctor’s office or clinic when they became ill. Another recent study found that uninsured Americans received $86 billion worth of health care in 2008.
Another finding from the California study, revealed that 80 % of the uninsured who obtained medical care and were charged for it, paid for it, and 20% paid in installments. It was estimated that the uninsured would pay $30 billion for their health care costs, 30 % of which would be out of pocket.
So it would seem that the millions of uninsured who are getting and paying for their medical care are not forgoing needed care and are not sticking the public with large ER bills.
Thus, is it necessary to expand government programs, probably with a legal requirement for everyone to carry insurance, when this type of information is examined carefully? If millions of people are able to access and pay for satisfactory health care without insurance is it rational to force them to buy traditional health insurance?
A better plan would be to encourage those who are currently eligible for existing government programs to enroll in them before expanding programs to include people who might not need assistance. Let us hope that those who will be studying ways to cover the care of those who truly need it, will be wise enough to tailor solutions so that limited resources can be applied in the most appropriate fashion.

Leave a Reply

William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved