More High-Income Americans Go Without Health Insurance
USA Today Online (11/22/02) Vol. 365, No. 8299 p.A1; Appleby, Julie

Health insurance costs continue to rise, and as they increase, more and more Americans are foregoing the option. According to the Census Bureau, not only are lower-income households without health insurance, but those in the $75,000 per year and over bracket are as well--last year 811,000 high-income people joined the 41.2 million working poor who are uninsured. Higher-income Americans are opting to go without insurance for several reasons: many are starting businesses and cannot afford the additional costs; some were recently laid off and are living paycheck to paycheck; and others are healthy and praying they stay that way. The recently laid-off, retirees, and consultants who seek out health insurance on their own find that family policies cost about $8,000 per year, and elderly people pay about $11,000 annually. Moreover, hospitals, clinics, and doctors charge those without insurance higher rates because many patients are unaware that health insurers negotiate lower charges on the patient's behalf. Since government programs for the uninsured are paid for through taxes, many economists are concerned that higher numbers of higher-income Americans will become "free riders," milking the system for all it is worth. However, critics contend that unless the government steps in to reform the health care system, even more people will be uninsured as employers drop health benefits from their list of options due to increasing expenses. In fact, many employers have already increased employee co-payments and deductibles to ease their own insurance burdens.


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