How-To: Provide Care to the Non-Insured
With the cost of health care on the rise, many hospitals in the United States are finding it increasingly difficult to provide treatment for Americans who do not have health insurance.
Some uninsured people cannot afford to pay high medical bills, and hospitals are forced to offer discounted or free care for them. However, this situation is changing for the better with the imposition of new health insurance laws.
Here is a look at how hospitals across the U.S. are dealing with uninsured patients.
More Americans are Acquiring Health Insurance
The implementation of Obamacare is positive news for many health care providers because it is reducing the number of Americans who do not have health insurance.
According to Gallup, the proportion of uninsured adults in the U.S. dropped to 13.4 percent in April, which was significantly lower than the figure recorded at the same time last year. In fact, it was the lowest since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008.
The reason why more Americans are getting health insurance is because Obamacare's individual mandate requires them to do so or pay a fine.
It is estimated that about 30 million Americans who used to be uninsured will obtain health insurance after Obamacare goes into effect.
The federal government forecasted that the number of uninsured Americans will fall to about 23 million in 2017.
How Hospitals Deal With the Uninsured: Safety-Net Clinics
As the following article shows, many hospitals across the U.S. provide charity care for Americans who have trouble obtaining health insurance or avoiding lapses in health insurance coverage.
Those that are more forward-thinking are also concerned with providing care for uninsured people before they are brought to the emergency department, and they try to achieve this by working with safety-net clinics and other community health care providers.
Safety-net clinics are clinics that provide free medical services for uninsured patients, and they operate with the help of volunteer health professionals.
These clinics play a very important role in the effectiveness and efficiency of health care systems as they can improve patient care and reduce pressure on emergency departments, avoidable re-admissions, and morbidity and mortality rates.
Educate the Uninsured about Health Insurance
The best way to deal with the uninsured is to convince them to get insurance.
Most uninsured Americans skip health coverage either because they cannot afford it or they are confused about it.
Hospitals and other health care providers should educate the uninsured and the general public about the importance of obtaining health insurance. They can do this by providing health insurance advice for uninsured people who seek medical attention from them or reach out to the general public through their websites, social media and other channels.
Consumers should be informed of the benefits of health insurance, the coverage options that are available and the possible availability of financial assistance.
While providing health care for the uninsured is considered a hospital's ethical obligation, it can drive up costs significantly.
As such, it is important for hospitals to take effective measures to streamline operations and minimize the number of uninsured patients they need to treat.
About the author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to cloud computing.