Last month’s Census Bureau report on the uninsured overlooked an important point: More than 99 percent of Americans have access to health coverage, regardless of their income or medical condition.
The overwhelming majority of those lacking insurance could have obtained coverage but did not enroll.
Many of those with lower incomes may not sign up for subsidized coverage because they know they can receive care at little or no cost to themselves even if they remain uninsured until they arrive at a clinic.
Those in the top two income quintiles may remain uninsured because government intervention in health insurance markets has created a menu of unattractive products at unattractive prices.
In his recent speech on health care, President Trump highlighted a proposed rule that hospitals make their prices public. It’s time for hospitals to comply. Transparency will likely lead to lower prices and a reduction in health care spending.
Many policy experts dismiss the importance of price transparency in health care. Skeptics argue that because health insurance insulates patients from prices, patients have little incentive to seek out the cheapest provider. These critics also cite studies showing that few patients use price transparency tools and that minimal savings result. On both these points, they are right. But their analysis is incomplete.
One item on voters’ short list for congressional action is addressing the growing problem of surprise medical bills.
Insured patients should be confident that if they receive care at a facility that is in their health plan’s network or have a medical emergency, they will be responsible only for their share of the plan’s negotiated rates.
But all too often, a patient receives a bill afterward from an anesthesiologist, for example, that wasn’t “in network.” The insurer says the charge isn’t its responsibility, and the patient is on the hook—often for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.