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Unemployment, Rising Health Care Costs Mean Less Doctor Visits For Many

In the last decade, over a quarter of the working-age population was uninsured. As health care costs rise, health insurance is the only way to create some predictability with out-of-pocket medical expenses. But medical insurance and medical services are becoming more and more costly, leaving many Americans without affordable coverage and vulnerable to financial disaster should a medical emergency or long term health problem arise.

Job Loss Often Leads to Loss of Insurance Coverage

Rising unemployment has created an insurance coverage gap for many Americans. Approximately 43 million working-age adults lost their job and health insurance benefits in the last two years; over half of those people then went without health insurance, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. "This is largely because there are few affordable options for health insurance when job-based coverage is lost," explained an author of the Commonwealth Fund Study, Sara Collins.

"We found that more than 70% of an estimated 26 million adults who tried to buy coverage in the individual market in the past three years reported difficulties finding affordable plans that met their needs. Nine million were turned down, charged a higher price or had a condition excluded from their coverage because of a preexisting condition," stated Collins.

Affordability of health insurance is an issue for those with insurance as well. The Commonwealth Fund Study reported a 40 percent increase in premiums between 2003 and 2009 for employer-sponsored plans; deductibles increased by almost 80 percent in the same period.

Health Care Reform and Hope for the Future

The cost of rising health care ultimately means one of two things: delaying routine health care visits or ignoring health issues altogether. Both are symptoms of the affordable health care problem in the United States.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is a step toward addressing the need for health care reform and access to health care for millions of Americans. In the near future, the Act promises to improve medical coverage for all Americans, provide prescription drug savings for Medicare recipients, require full coverage of preventative health care screenings by in-network providers and eliminate exceptions for pre-existing conditions that may have kept people from being insurable previously. Although a step in the right direction, there is certainly much more to be done.

Source: More adults going without medical care because of costs

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