Insecurity in health care

Security is essential to peace of mind. When we get sick, many Americans become insecure about whether they can afford or access the care they need. Major financial worries on top of health concerns are unfair and unnecessary. More importantly, health insecurity contradicts our American value of justice for all, and our principle of health equity. Simply put, all of us deserve access to quality, affordable care.

How is health care insecurity harmful?

Anxiety itself makes health worse, and worry that leads to poorer decision-making makes health worse. And, fear of financial damage from unaffordable care often delays people getting the care they need.

How does the principle of universality address this problem?

In 2004, in Insuring America’s Health, the Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine) stated that in order to address the problem of uninsurance, the nation needed to make a commitment to health care for all. Its conclusion states: “The persistence of uninsurance in the United States requires a national and coherent strategy aimed at covering the entire population. Federal leadership and federal dollars are necessary to eliminate uninsurance, although not necessarily federal administration or a uniform approach throughout the country. Universal health insurance coverage will only be achieved when the principle of universality is embodied in federal public policy.”

What does true universality mean?

True universal health care coverage means affordability and accessibility for individuals and families. When insurance premiums and copays are too high, when high drug prices and medical services force people to choose between basic care and survival, the premise of universality does not exist. In short, access to an insurance plan or to care that is unaffordable or unreachable is not universal health care.

What are the practical advantages of universality in health care?

Universal health care coverage means continuous care, from prevention at an early stage, to detection and diagnosis, to provision of the appropriate treatment and support. It means that we would have in place, and continuously improve, a health care system that is efficient in providing services, avoids unnecessary or duplicative treatment, and is patient-centered and user-friendly. Such a system would offer financial assurance that the individual alone will not have to face undue financial burdens. It will provide all of us with the confidence that we can shoulder health care challenges without the fear of financial ruin. Updated 6/1/2018