Many Arkansans Don't Have Health Insurance

April 26, 2006 -- Posted at 5:27 p.m. CST


PARAGOULD, AR -- 16% of Arkansans don't have insurance, and because of that, some choose not to seek medical treatment.


Ike Houston is without health insurance, recently he's been lucky.  But, a few years ago that wasn't the case.


Two years ago, Houston had a heart valve replaced.


“I still take medicine every day for my heart blood thinners and things like that, but no problems so far,” said Ike Houston.


Houston has been lucky enough to get his medications even without insurance.  However, for many other Arkansans, that’s not the case.


“Economy like it is right now, basically, you don’t have the money to pay for insurance.  And the physical, a lot of people can’t pass that anymore, so it’s kind of hard,” said Houston.


Health insurance comes with a hefty price tag.


More than 488,000 Arkansans don’t have health insurance, a number that’s not surprising to health care providers.


“We see a lot of patients who could have stopped something a lot sooner, but were afraid to go to a doctor or some other health care provider because they were afraid they wouldn't be treated,” said Bryan Jackson, Vice President of Finance at Arkansas Methodist Hospital.


Because of this, many ailments often go ignored.


“Someone may choose not to go to the doctor when they have a small problem, they wait until it becomes a major problem, and then they go to the ER,” said Jackson.


While there are some who choose not to have health insurance because they don't think they need it, there are many others who just can't afford it.


“I think the government should have some type of insurance for us… especially low-income people,” said Houston.


By law, no one can be turned away because they don’t have insurance.


May 1st-7th is National Cover the Uninsured Week.  The week is a movement to better inform members of Congress about the state of health coverage in the United States.


For more information about National Cover the Uninsured Week click here.