The number of Washingtonians with no health insurance will soon reach 1 million, according to a report issued today by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. Kreidler also predicts that the cost of uncompensated medical care in the state will reach $1 billion annually by 2011. The report includes costs, trends, projections and a county-by-county breakdown of the number of uninsured people.
According to Kreidler, the total cost of uncompensated careuncollected medical debts and charity care by hospitals and other health providershas increased by over 80 percent from $457 million in 2002 to a projected $830 million by the end of this year. According to the report, uncompensated care costs the average insured Washington family $917 a year.
Kreidler added that even people with insurance are struggling — One in four people with insurance don’t have enough to meet their needs in a medical emergency, and half of the uncompensated care costs today are generated by people with insurance who are one diagnosis away from bankruptcy. In general, rural areas are harder hit. For example, by 2011, the number of uninsured people in King County will reach 14.3 percent. Less-urban areas of Washington will see average uninsured rates of nearly 19 percent.
To read the report, visit http://www.insurance.wa.gov/consumers/reform/Reform.shtml .