Why We Are Needed
VIM Berkshires’ volunteers and staff are often asked: “Why do we need free services for the uninsured? Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been implemented, doesn’t everyone have access to health insurance now?”
The simple answer is “no.” The ACA was never intended to cover everyone. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that even after the act is fully implemented in 2019 in all 50 states, there will still be 31 million uninsured. That’s about 10% of the country’s population.
Even in Massachusetts, with the highest insured rate in the country, 20% of residents were uninsured for part of the year, and 5% for the entire year.
People may lose health insurance when they lose a job or miss a premium payment because of an unexpected expense or drop in income. They may work too few hours to qualify for employer provided insurance or may be unable to afford ever-increasing co-pays and deductibles.
Volunteers in Medicine fills a significant, and growing, need in our community. Last year we treated nearly 1,000 uninsured Berkshire residents in more than 5,500 individual visits, up 35% since 2016.