Uninsured pay $30 billion for health care

Report says uninsured receive another $56 billion in care, the bulk of which the government pays.

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By Lara Moscrip, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Americans without health insurance will spend $30 billion out of pocket on medical care this year, according to a new report by George Mason University and the Urban Institute.

The government will pay about 75% of an additional $56 billion in health costs - or $42 billion - for the uninsured. The rest is covered by private physicians, community groups and hospitals.

The high cost of health care and the problem of not having insurance is only going to get worse with time, according to the report's main author, Jack Hadley of George Mason University and the Urban Institute. The report was published Monday in Health Affairs, a health policy journal.

"Given the focus of presidential campaigns on health care reform, it seems this would be a good time to address high cost of care ... and the problem of not having insurance," Hadley said. "The cost of covering the insured will be more expensive if we continue to wait."

On Tuesday, the census bureau will release new estimates of how many Americans live without health insurance. Currently, the estimate is 47 million, but that figure is expected to grow to as high as 49 million, according to Hadley. Roughly 16% of Americans do not have health insurance.

The cost of expanding coverage to the uninsured through private and public insurance would add 5% to national health spending, Hadley said.

Since people with health insurance tend to spend more, full coverage would increase spending on the uninsured by $122.6 billion, according to the report. That would bring the total cost to cover the uninsured to $208.6 billion. The report's authors based the estimate on the health care spending of insured people.

Hadley said that the benefits of expanded health coverage could include greater productivity and greater tax revenues for the government, in addition to the intrinsic value of good health.

"Spending on health care is not like spending on going to the movies," Hadley said. "There's an intrinsic value to good health, in addition to the ability to work effectively." To top of page

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