What does it feel like to be uninsured in the United States?
ome uninsured people barely notice that they do not have health insurance. They do not worry about needing medical care, or they figure that some government program, or a payment plan with the doctor or hospital will work out. Uninsured people who regularly need medical care feel their lack of insurance more acutely. They may have applied for government programs and been turned down; they may qualify for free or sliding-scale clinics, and for charity care programs at hospitals. Unless they qualify for a government program (Medicare or Medicaid), they would still have the possibility of needing care that they could not afford; that is, they could be turned away by a hospital or doctor.
Some uninsured people who do not regularly need care still worry about if and when they will need care. They might feel more confident about their future if they applied for all of the various programs and found out what supports were available to them.
Last, some uninsured people refuse to buy health insurance or to apply for government programs. They are uninsured by choice, and they may be well aware of the consequences, which they are willing to risk.
Anyone who does not have health insurance would be wise to investigate his options — subsidized health insurance (from the marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act), government programs, or charity programs. Being armed with the information is better than not knowing.