As always, the “devil is in the details”. Why is it so hard to get a straight answer about this question? Because to ask it, you have to interpret the answer based on the “it depends” variable.
It depends on:
- How long of a time period of being uninsured are you talking about?
- Are you talking about right this minute or at any time during the past 12 months or two years or whatever?
- Do you count the fact that I was eligible, but turned down credible coverage? What reason did I turn it down?
- Do you count me if I was eligible for Medicaid but chose not to enroll?
- Does it count that I elected not to pay for COBRA coverage between jobs?
- Does it count if I came off of my parent’s policy but chose to “roll the dice” on the odds and go without my own?
- Do you count me as uninsured if I have been paying for medical bills out of an old HSA that I set up and funded when I used to have an QHDHP, even though the Plan is no longer in force? (yes, this is legal and IRS sanctioned)
These are just a few of the many variables that confound the answer to the question.
It would help if the authors and interpreters of the various studies would just segregate the data with clear labels and quit homogenizing it all. Stated differently, just define your terms clearly and always refer to them when you discuss the data. The media should do the same.