By Sherrod Brown
Most people never plan to spend time in the hospital, but sometimes things happen. If you suddenly need medical care but do not have health insurance, you could be stuck paying for the entire bill on your own. With the average cost of a three-day hospital stay exceeding $30,000, it is no surprise that unexpected medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.
Each year, nearly two million Americans find themselves caught between the double disaster of illness and bankruptcy, and more than 56 million adults struggle with health care related bills. Uninsured individuals experience bankruptcy and medical debt at a rate much higher than those who have health insurance.
Generally speaking, if you are uninsured, you are:
More likely to pay up to 2.5 times what insured patients pay for the same hospital services;
Four times more likely to delay or forgo preventive care;
Six times more likely to go without needed care due to cost;
Five times less likely to find a primary care doctor’s office or clinic that will accept you as a patient without insurance;
More likely to be diagnosed with a disease in an advanced stage, as opposed to an earlier stage with more treatment options; and
Twenty-five percent more likely to die prematurely than adults with health insurance.
Don’t let unexpected medical costs ruin your financial security or prevent you from getting the care that you need. The health reform law helps provide affordable healthcare insurance for individuals and families to help you avoid both the financial and health risks of being uninsured.
The new health insurance exchange provides individuals and families with the opportunity to shop for and purchase quality, affordable health insurance. This health insurance helps protect you from high, unexpected costs that sometimes drag those without coverage into debt or even bankruptcy. It also provides other important benefits like free preventive care, screenings, vaccines, annual check-ups, well-woman visits, and costs for some prescription drugs.
More than five million Americans—and nearly 97,000 Ohioans—are now healthier and better protected as a part of the new marketplace. However, many uninsured Ohioans have failed to purchase health insurance coverage under the health law. With the final deadline of March 31 approaching, check out the quality coverage options offered in the healthcare exchange. Or call 1-800-318-2596, or visit https://localhelp.healthcare.gov to find local, certified navigators, application specialists, and certified application counselors to help you understand the new health care coverage options and choose a plan that best suits your needs.
Protect your health, the health of your family, and your wallet by signing up for health insurance today.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.