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Having health insurance may lower Medicare costs

Posted On Fri, October 9, 2009

A recent study indicates that expanding heath insurance may actually save Medicare money.

The findings about Medicare were released by the Harvard Medical School, which found that people who were insured prior to being eligible for the program cost it $1,000 less annually than people who were not insured or intermittently insured.

"Providing health insurance coverage to older uninsured adults may not cost as much as previously thought," J. Michael McWilliams, assistant professor of health care policy and medicine at the medical school and author of the report, said.

The study found the increased costs were related to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and arthritis surgeries that have been put off. McWilliams said it makes sense that such untreated chronic conditions would make up a large majority of the additional costs for Medicare.

As the debate on health care reform continues, a number of insurance companies have called on Congress to keep penalties high for households that refuse to get health insurance. Previous incarnations of reform measures had penalties as high as $3,800. However, the Senate Finance Committee recently lowered the penalty to $1,500 in its version of the health care reform.

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