The Boston Globe – 6/18/03, Maggie Fox, Reuters, 2003-06-23
Universal coverage is called a savings
By Maggie Fox, Reuters, 6/18/2003
WASHINGTON — The US economy loses $65 billion to $130 billion every year when people without health insurance get sick and die, according to a report released yesterday.
It would cost less to insure the 41 million Americans who now lack health insurance, the report from the Institute of Medicine found. Taking care of these people would probably cost $34 billion to $69 billion, the institute, which advises the federal government, contends.
Two-thirds of Americans have health insurance through an employer or a family member’s workplace. The sick, disabled, and those over 65 rely on Medicare and Medicaid, but the rest — an estimated 18.5 percent of those ages 18 to 65 — had no coverage for all or part of the past year.
The estimates vary from 30 million to more than 70 million, but the institute, one of the independent National Academies of Science, went with the most accepted figure of 41 million.
Mary Sue Coleman, cochairwoman of the committee that wrote the report and president of the University of Michigan, said she hoped the findings would help convince American voters that universal health care is vital.
”It has been so easy for people to assume that if people need care they'd end up in a hospital,” said Dr. James Mongan, a panel member and president and chief executive officer of Partners HealthCare System Inc. in Boston. ”That may be true for things like childbirth or a broken arm, but it is not true of more chronic conditions.”