Study: Uninsured Barely Get Health Care

ByABC News
August 10, 2000, 3:18 PM

Aug. 10 -- At a time of unprecedented wealth in the United States, 44 million Americans are uninsured and receive second-class health care, if they receive any at all, according to a consumer advocacy group.

The plight of the uninsured is getting worse while the burden of paying for health care is getting heavier for the poor and middle class, says Consumers Union Washington spokesman David Butler.

Given the trillion dollar budget surplus in the U.S., Butler believes it is time for the federal government to make a bolder attempt at providing the country with a national health care system.

In its September issue of Consumer Reports the group sums up a six-month investigation into the state of U.S. health care. Blaming welfare reform and a lack of marketplace initiatives to provide adequate medical care for the poor, the report states the health care system is increasingly unable to provide treatment for working Americans who do not qualify for Medicaid, yet cannot afford insurance on their own.

The U.S. spends more of its GDP on health care than any other country in the world, yet the quality of care that the uninsured receive is getting worse and will continue to deteriorate as their numbers go up, says Trudy Lieberman the reports author and director of the Center for Consumer Health Choices at Consumers Union. She predicts that in five years there will be 47 million uninsured Americans.

Perceived Worthiness

They put up with care the rest of us who are insured would never put up with, Lieberman, saidat a news conference in Washington today.

The kind of health care the uninsured receive depends on their age, where they live and what programs may exist in their area, how much money they can scrape together to pay for careand on their perceived worthiness, the report said. Meanwhile, it said, emergency rooms, community clinics, pharmaceutical -industry programs and charity care, which have long been relied on to provide a safety net for the uninsured, dont catch everyone in need.