WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Having health insurance improves an individual’s access to and quality of medical care and contributes to overall health. Health insurance is not only important for the treatment of current illnesses or injuries but also for prevention of future illnesses through the provision of such preventive measures as immunizations, physical exams, and dental check-ups. Studies have also shown that lacking health insurance is associated with not receiving recommended treatments for chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, arthritis, or hypertension.[i] Health insurance is especially important for children; strong associations exist between having health insurance as a child, gaining access to primary care, and preventing the effects of illnesses and injuries from lasting into adulthood.[ii] Health insurance coverage varies across income levels and racial and ethnic groups. Increasing access to continuously available health care reduces costs to society by reducing emergency room visits and reducing losses to worker productivity caused by illness and injury.[iii]
[i] G. Beckles, M. Engelgau, K. Narayan, W. Herman, R. Aubert, and D. Williamson, “Population-based Assessment of the Level of Care Among Adults with Diabetes in the U.S,” Diabetes Care 21 (1998): 1432-1438.
[ii] Newachek, “Health Insurance and Access to Primary Care of Children,” New England Journal of Medicine 338 (1998): 513-519.
[iii] Patricia McBurney, “Potential Cost Savings of Decreased Emergency Department Visits through Increased Continuity in a Pediatric Medical Home,” Ambulatory Pediatrics 4, no. 3 (2004): 204-208.