Monday, August 25, 2008

Pricetag for the Uninsured

[Welcome Industry Radar readers!]

Just how much do the uninsured pay for health care?

According to the WSJ, about $30,000,000,000.

If you apply the popularly quoted figure of 47,000,000 uninsured, that breaks out to less than $630 per person.

That's a bargain.

Health-care spending accounted for 16.3% 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.

Shifting cost to the government, who in turn shifts the cost to the taxpayer.

And how about those deficits?

Some doctors and hospitals donate time and forgo profit to cover poor people, and in some cases private donations cover the costs. Just how much money doctors and hospitals lose in caring for the uninsured is difficult to pin down, partly because group plans often negotiate lower payment rates than other consumers are billed.

Doctor's and hospital's forgo profits. In most cases they collect nothing.

I thought profits only existed for the insurance carriers.

"group plans often negotiate lower payment rates than other consumers are billed".

Billed charges mean nothing. All that matters is what is paid.

While many have argued that uncompensated care will translate into higher premiums to patients with private insurance, Mr. Hadley said the impact is "very small," noting that despite an increase in the number of uninsured, hospital spending on uncompensated care has been relatively stable. That is partly because the public hospitals and clinics that most often care for the uninsured often don't have many privately insured patients to absorb the costs.

"It's more through taxes than private insurance bills," Mr. Hadley said

So increased premiums AND increased taxes.

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