There is strong evidence that people who lack health insurance live sicker lives. They receive needed care later, if at all, and skip recommended preventive care.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) aims to address this problem by expanding health care coverage to roughly 32 million more Americans once the law is fully implemented in 2014. Many of these individuals have not had health insurance due to a pre-existing condition or their inability to afford private insurance or qualify for a public plan like Medicaid. Even when fully implemented, the ACA will not extend coverage to everyone; many people will remain uninsured.
This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in August 2011, examines the consequences of being uninsured to the individual and to society.
Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.