Access to Care

stk121464rke.jpgFew organizations understand better than hospitals the multitude of problems that result from a lack of access to affordable health insurance coverage. People do not receive the care they need when they need it most. Hospitals, which provide care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for services, serve as society’s safety net. Much of the cost of caring for the uninsured and under-insured is shifted to others in the form of higher charges and increased health insurance premiums. Hospitals use their experience and understanding of this issue to provide leadership in efforts to expand access to all citizens. We can have the greatest health care delivery system in the world, but it does no good unless all Americans have access to the care they need. In this country, access to insurance coverage is a prerequisite to access to health care. Pressure to identify quick fixes to reducing escalating commercial insurance premiums threatens reasonable geographic access to health care services.

Government should be responsible for those least able to afford health care on their own: older Americans and poor Americans. But it’s not enough to provide an insurance product as government does now through Medicare and Medicaid. In order to keep the balance; government must pay at least the cost of the care to the providers of that care. Maine’s access goals must be focused on both access to affordable coverage as well as preserving rational geographical access to health care services.