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Uncompensated Care

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Uncompensated Care"

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One group of people who really wishes congressional Democrats would get their s*&^t together and pass a health care bill are the currently uninsured, who could really use access to affordable health care. Another group are those who wind up charged with treating those who are unable to pay when they show up at hospitals badly ill:

For the nation’s hospitals, at least, the cost of doing nothing in Washington translates into tens of billions of dollars each year in medical bills that go unpaid by patients with little or no insurance.

Nationwide, the cost of unpaid care for hospitals, which includes charity care as well as money that could not be collected from patients, was around $36 billion in 2008. It is expected to spiral higher. The number of people without insurance in this country could increase to as high as 58 million by 2014, from about 49 million now, according to an estimate by the Urban Institute.

This is good context for the House GOP Medicare privatization plan. First, Paul Ryan will take away your Medicare and replace it with private insurance that costs the government the same amount. But since private insurers have higher payment rates and higher administrative costs, that same cost to the government will equal less treatment for you. You deal with that with a slice of foregone medical care and a slice of unpaid treatment at the hospital. Then over time, treatments grow more expensive and your Ryan Voucher grows much more slowly in value. Even more foregone medical care and even more unpaid treatment at the hospital.

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