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What happens if I am found with no health insurance?

woman worried about not having health insuranceIf you like millions of other Americans, lack health insurance coverage, you will be asked to pay cash for needful and necessary:

  • Doctor’s visits
  • Hospital care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Other medical services

Emergency treatment for an accident or a brief hospital stay can run into the thousands of dollars, potentially bankrupting those who are uninsured.

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This is a situation that no one wants to be in, but for an estimated 44 million Americans, the possibility of having a serious or prolonged illness or other medical emergency without any health insurance coverage, is a reality. Another estimated 38 million Americans have inadequate coverage.

What will I do if I don’t have health insurance?

People without health coverage will often go without routine check-ups and skip regular doctor visits. They also won’t get preventive care or treatment, waiting until there is an emergency before seeking medical attention. Children often miss necessary immunizations and wellness visits.

Those who are uninsured will have no regular doctor and little access to expensive prescription medications.

Postponing treatment, only seeking medical attention at the last minute or when in crisis, may lead to disastrous results for many uninsured individuals. The long-term effects can be catastrophic for the average family, not only medically, but financially as well.

Eventually, this places an increased burden on hospitals that are left to treat ailments that might have been avoided with early detection and treatment. The public, in one way or another, must pay for these services. This forces the costs of medical services and health insurances higher and higher, for everyone!

What are the risks of going without health coverage?

If you forego regular medical care, you’re at risk for not catching a potential threat or serious medical problem while it’s still in an early stage and treatable. When you do get sick enough to get help, you may not get the best treatment. Lastly, the financial risk for an uninsured individual is tremendous, for even a minor health issue can wipe out a family’s entire life savings.

Can I even get hospital care if I have no insurance?

Laws can vary from state to state, but most states have laws, which require hospitals to provide at least some free emergency care to indigents and other individuals who have no insurance coverage or who lack the means to pay for these services.

Will I get the same level of care if I’m uninsured?

The federal government, as well as most states, has enacted legislation, which protects a patient’s right to quality health care services regardless of the individual’s financial circumstances or ability to pay.

However, these laws provide for only basic, emergency hospital treatment. Follow-up care or preventive medical services, usually provided by private practitioners, are not covered by these laws.

Where can I find other health care services?

With poverty affecting many millions of Americans, many communities have responded by sponsoring free clinics and neighborhood treatment centers. Doctors and other health care professionals donate their time to provide services in these poor urban areas. However, these support groups aren’t nearly plentiful enough to provide services to all in need.

Doesn’t the government provide health insurance for the needy?

Yes!  The Medicaid program insures more than 60 million Americans and covers most all medical services, including transportation. This federal program is administered separately in all 50 United States, so eligibility requirements can vary. Generally, the application process for Medicaid is complex and lengthy, taking from six months to a year in many areas.

What can I do in the meanwhile?

Continue to see your doctor and receive necessary treatment. Let your health care providers know that you have an active Medicaid application. When you are approved, Medicaid will usually backdate eligibility and pay for services incurred during the application period.

Isn’t there insurance coverage for older Americans?

Yes! If you are over 65, you are automatically eligible for the federal Medicare program, which provides basic coverage for the elderly. Most Medicare recipients are responsible for paying a portion of the monthly Medicare premiums, either directly or as a deduction from their monthly Social Securitycheck.

Does Medicare cover everything?

No!  There are many expenses that Medicare only partially covers or doesn’t cover at all. Many seniors seek additional coverage to offset out-of-pocket costs, and purchase one of many available Medicare supplementary programs. This supplemental insurance can be especially helpful in offsetting the high costs of medication and prescription drugs.

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