Caring for the Uninsured

Hospitals provide more than a billion dollars worth of services each year to uninsured patients, and only about 10 percent of these costs are reimbursed.  For the uninsured, hospitals are the first line of care. Research and experience of low-income households show that the uninsured and underinsured trust their doctors, but they only go when it is an absolute medical emergency.  For hospitals, this means they are seeking care in the emergency rooms for conditions that could have been treated when less severe or prevented entirely.  As a result, the care is more costly, the costs are predominantly absorbed by the hospitals, and the patients have poorer health outcomes. 

The effects of the uninsured on hospitals are mounting as more families are facing unemployment or increasing insurance costs.  The number of uninsured in Georgia is high and on the rise.  Currently, nearly 18 percent of the total state population is uninsured, ranking Georgia the 10th highest in percentage of uninsured population. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates for providers are already lower than the costs to hospitals to provide the care, and with rates in jeopardy of being cut further as states are facing budget struggles.   

Ensuring Georgians are able to get critical health care services is key to our viability as a state. The health of a population impacts not only quality of life, but also overall economic health. As we seek to attract new industries and retain current businesses, we have to be able to compete as a city where people want to live.  It is critical to identify revenue sources that will fill these funding gaps in order to ensure Georgians can continue to get the care they need, regardless of their ability to pay.

The Alliance advocates for proper funding to support adequate reimbursement to providers of medical services to all populations and administrative policies and procedures that do not impose undue burdens on those providers. As we care for all of our neighbors and the health of the state as a whole, we need to support our community, Not-for-Profit hospitals and their ability to provide care to everyone.