Thereare several financial problems that face patients in the modernhealth care system. Being underinsured has remained one of thegreatest financial problem facing patients in the American healthcare system. Despite health care reforms that have aimed atincreasing the number of Americans insured under public and privateprograms, millions of Americans remains uninsured or underinsured.Underinsured is however different from uninsured. Underinsured areindividuals covered by a health insurance program, but does not haveadequate financial protection that covers all medical care expenses.Other individuals who are considered to be underinsured includepersons whose medical expenses are more than ten percent of theirincome medical expenses are above five percent of their income butbelow the federal poverty level and have health plan deductions abovefive percent of their income (Institute of Medicine, 2009). Althoughsome of these individuals have been covered by public healthinsurance programs under the health care reforms introduced byPresident Obama administration, underinsurance remains an importantfinancial challenge facing a large number of patients in the UnitedStates. Compared to insured individuals, underinsured individualshave limited access to health care services, similar to uninsuredindividuals (Riley & Moy, 2012).
In2008, fifteen percent of Americans were uninsured while over twentyfive million Americans were underinsured. The patient protection andaffordable care act, commonly known as Obamacare aimed at increasinginsurance coverage among underinsured and uninsured Americans. Thehealth care reforms expanded the eligibility of individuals to publicfunded medical insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Forexample, individuals with income of up to 133 percent of the federalpoverty level became eligible for Medicaid coverage. Majority ofthese individuals were either underinsured or uninsured.Additionally, the law provided adequate subsidies for low incomeresidents of the United States who are not eligible for Medicaidcoverage but are probably underinsured. Despite this, the modernhealth care system in the United States is struggling with patientfinancial problems related to underinsurance (Riley & Moy, 2012).
Thereare various budgetary, health care policy and personal financialimpacts of being underinsured. Underinsurance results into increasedfinancial hardship and reduced accessibility and affordability ofhealthcare services. The increased medical costs have been animportant health care issue. However, the case is more serious ifthere are a large number of underinsured patients in need of medicalservices. It is estimated that about twenty percent of patients inthe United States are likely to abandon treatment because they cannotafford it. Majority of people cannot afford the out of pocket medicalexpenses. Due to the increased cost of medical services, skippinghealth care services have become increasingly common. The mostcritical impact of being underinsured is the fact that the patientwill be forced to pay some of his medical bills out of pocket.Typically, they are billed for most of the medical care services theyreceive. Additionally, medical bills have a direct impact on thefinancial wellbeing of underinsured individuals. Additionally,underinsured individuals are at a higher risk of having medical debts(Institute of Medicine, 2009).
Inconclusion, there are many financial challenges that face patient inthe modern health care system. These problems have implications onaffordability and accessibility to health care services. AlthoughObamacare aimed at increasing the number of Americans with healthinsurance coverage, the number of underinsured patients remains high.This has short term and long term financial implications.
Instituteof Medicine, (2009). America’s Uninsured Crisis: Consequences forHealth and Health Care. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Riley,E. & Moy, B. (2012). Ethical Challenges: Caring for theUnderinsured, Geographically Disadvantaged Patient, Journal ofOncology Practice, 8(4), 215-218.