AAFP Statement: Insurance Coverage Requirement Is Foundation of Improving Access, Quality and Cost Containment in Health Care

Monday, July 15, 2013


Statement attributable to:
Jeff Cain, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

LEAWOOD, Kan. — “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that individuals have health insurance — either through their employer, a federal or state health care program, or as an individual purchaser — is the foundation of improving access to care and vital to ensuring everyone has health care coverage. For that reason, the American Academy of Family Physicians strongly supports the health coverage requirement for individuals. We urge Congress to preserve this element of health care reform.

“The cost of providing care to uninsured patients is a major driver of skyrocketing costs of health care. Health professionals struggle with economic losses that result from providing care to uninsured patients. Individuals whose usual source of care is the emergency room have no access to comprehensive, coordinated services that prevent unnecessary often-uncompensated ER use and hospitalizations. Worse, the professionals who see these patients for incident-specific health issues and do not know the patient’s medical history must repeat expensive tests and procedures. The cost of these fragmented and costly interventions are passed on through rate increases to the insured, which in turn drives up the cost for employers, governments, and individuals.  

“One way to end this increasingly expensive cycle is to require everyone to have health insurance. The AAFP has consistently called for ensuring that everyone has access to health insurance and care provided in a patient-centered medical home. The Affordable Care Act does just that with its requirement that individuals who don’t get health benefits through work buy coverage — with appropriate subsidies if necessary — or receive health care through Medicaid.

“If Congress hopes to improve the quality of health care and rein in escalating costs, it must end the fragmented, duplicative system that results from lack of health insurance. Ensuring that all individuals have health care coverage is not only good health care policy, but it is also good economic policy. Without a coverage requirement, many patients will continue to have no coverage, other patients will see insurance premiums rise due to covering the cost of uninsured patients, businesses will continue to grapple with rising health care costs, and health professionals will have to absorb significant financial losses due to providing uncompensated care.”

# # #

Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on Twitter,(twitter.com) and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).