Health insurance is good for health

Is this really controversial? Evidently, some of you think it is. I was reading a Viewpoint in JAMA when I stumbled across this (emphasis mine):

For years, clinicians have advocated for health insurance coverage for all Americans. Now, through the Affordable Care Act, the nation is one step closer to this goal. October 1, 2013, marks the beginning of a new era when millions will be able to enroll in health insurance at the Health Insurance Marketplace. Ushering in this new era presents an enormous opportunity for the entire health care system. It has never been more important for physicians and other health care professionals to be engaged in connecting people to coverage.

As a physician and nurse, respectively, we have too often witnessed how the lack of health insurance can negatively affect a patient’s health. According to the Institute of Medicine, coverage is essential to health and wellness. Uninsured adults are more likely than insured adults to be diagnosed at advanced stages of cancer or die of stroke or myocardial infarction. They are also less likely to have a usual source of medical care, decreasing their likelihood of receiving preventive and primary care.

The piece itself won’t hold much new information for those who regularly read the blog. But I was struck by the fact that the Institute of Medicine has pretty much confirmed what used to be a widespread belief – that health coverage is linked to health. It’s strange to me that I’ve spent the last week arguing with people who feel otherwise.

I’d also take more people making that argument seriously if they, themselves, were giving up their health insurance.


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