Continuous coverage is necessary for management of a chronic disease, which is a large medical issue afflicting the U.S. This is important because 20 percent of all Americans have multiple chronic conditions that need treatment and continuous coverage, and because of this almost 80 percent of all health care spending is on patients with chronic conditions. Currently, 66 percent of Medicare spending is for patients with five or more chronic conditions. Patients with chronic conditions account for 76 percent of inpatient stays, 72 percent of physician visits, 88 percent of prescriptions and 96 percent of home health care visits; consequently, chronic conditions account for a large amount of health care costs.
To prevent unnecessary hospitalization and control costs, an insured population needs access to primary care physicians and/or a medical home. Having a personal physician would cut down on these medical costs by continually knowing a person’s medical background and helping to focus on preventing disease before it starts. If a disease cannot be prevented, a personal physician would help identify the disease processes early, making the disease more affordable to treat. These physicians would practice evidence-based medicine to slow disease progression and be able to coordinate individualized care for their patients.
The consequences of lapses in continuous care include increased morbidity and mortality. Uninsured patients, at time of diagnosis of cancer, were 1.6 times more likely to die in five years than those with insurance and have age-specific mortality rates that are 25 percent higher than privately insured adults. This means that in the year 2000, there were 18,000 avoidable deaths among adults ages 25-64 due to lack of health insurance. Uninsured parents rarely have insured children; lack of routine health care affects development in children, which creates chronic problems and makes them less healthy coming into adulthood.