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Thursday, September 23, 2004


The problem of uninsurance and underinsurance affects us all. Lost productivity from sick days (or, worse, people coming in to work sick who not only get less done but also infect others), higher costs for everyone to cover those who can't pay (and consequently only get care at the ER, which is way more expensive than at a doctor's office), etc.

The (mainly) Republican idea is that by shifting the costs of insurance onto employees (patients) instead of employers, people will spend more carefully and the market will reduce costs. This report should give anyone who believes this pause.
This is one of those times the nice economists' theories don't work. At. All. People strapped for cash skip prescriptions, avoid the doctor, etc., and end up making mountains out of molehills. Or, more accurately, pneumonia out of a light bronchitis. So they go to the ER. And get three or four prescriptions. None of which they can pay for, so the hospital 'eats' the cost. And passes it on to the rest of us. If they had had proper insurance and gone to the doctor in the first place, it would've been a matter of one visit and maybe one (and relatively cheap) antibiotic prescription. Instead you have an ER visit, multiple prescriptions, and lost work. This is why coverage is key.

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