Millions Of Uninsured US Residents Suffer From Chronic Illnesses

Armen Hareyan's picture

Tens of millions of US residents do not have health insurance and there are a lot of people among them suffering from chronic illnesses. Since health insurance is less and less affordable many people stay uninsured and don't get proper treatment.

Researchers from Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts examined data from National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey conducted between 1999 and 2004. The survey involved 12486 working US citizens aged from 18 to 64.

Researchers focused on chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. All these diseases can be treated, and patients can live a normal life, but if they don't regularly visit physicians and receive proper treatment, they will experience major health complications.


Researchers found that 11.4 million out of 36 million people without health insurance coverage have at least one chronic disease diagnosed. Heart disease accounts for 16.1% of all cases, high blood pressure accounts for 15.5%, and diabetes for 16.6%.

About 22.6% of uninsured people reported that they did not visit a doctor during the past year because of the lack of affordable health insurance. The number is too high compared to 16.2% of insured. About 7% of chronically ill uninsured residents receive treatment in emergency rooms only.

Researchers estimate, that this year will leave about 47 million people in USA without health insurance coverage. If the proportion of people with chronic illnesses stays the same, they expect about 16 million uninsured people with chronic diseases who will not receive adequate treatment. And still they think the number of suffering people is underestimated, because there may be uninsured people who did not receive a diagnosis during the study period, but was suffering from chronic conditions.

Dr. Marshall H. Chin of the University of Chicago says: "Health care insurance reform is necessary for good care for chronic disease. However, it won't be enough until efforts are made to tackle disparities in health care."