Health Care Coverage
Most Americans have health care coverage through their employers. However, during these tough economic times, many workers are facing layoffs or being asked to reduce their hours. Of those fortunate individuals who are able to retain their jobs, many are being told by their employers that they will either be eliminating health care coverage, or at least reducing the benefits. This leaves a large segment of the working population with either greatly reduced coverage or no coverage at all.
Did you know that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t provide some form of universal healthcare for its citizens? As stated previously, most Americans have their health care coverage through their employers. But employment is no longer a guarantee of coverage. Even if employees are offered coverage through their job, many times they cannot afford the premiums. Employee spending for health care coverage (employee’s share of family coverage) increased 143% between 2000 and 2006! And the cost is continuing to skyrocket. The inability to pay off medical bills, usually attributed to an emergency treatment or serious diagnosis, is now one of the leading reasons people are forced to seek bankruptcy. The cost of routine medical expenses, both routine replica panerai
and emergency, are increasing at a much faster pace than are household incomes.
A Brief Look at Who is Uninsured
Nearly 46 million Americans have no health care coverage. In this country, approximately 5 people lose their health care coverage EVERY MINUTE. 74% of those without insurance come from working families. These are all very frightening statistics. Many uninsured come from families that are subsisting at or below the federal government poverty level, which in 2009, is determined as follows:
1 person in household- $10,830
2 persons in household- $14,570
3 persons in household- $18,310
4 persons in household- $22,050
Poor, however, doesn’t mean unemployed. These workers are not disconnected from employment. They are simply disconnected from affordable health insurance- either because it’s not offered by their employer or the share they are asked to pay is more than they can afford.
Workers who work for small companies are also more at risk, because these companies are less likely to be able to offer insurance for their employees. Only 52% of companies with less than 10 workers offer their employees health care coverage, while 99% of companies with more than 200 employees do.
The scope of the health care crisis is reaching record proportions and touches the lives of Americans from all backgrounds, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, education, employment, or age. Here are some facts to consider. 32% of Hispanics living in the U.S. are uninsured. 10 of the 13 million uninsured Hispanics come from working families. 20% of Black Americans and 18% of Asians are uninsured, compared with 11% of whites. The number of people earning more than $75,000 annually who lost their insurance coverage increased by 28% last year. The number of college graduates who lost their coverage also rose by 29%. Close to 1 million people who lost their health care coverage last year are employed full-time. And finally, one in ten married women, aged 55-64, becomes uninsured when their husbands retire at 65.
What is Causing the Increase in the Number of Uninsured People?
There is no simple answer to this complex question. Again, one of the most important facts to consider is that so many workers do not have the opportunity to get health care coverage through their employment. In 2007, fully one-third of companies in the U.S. did not offer any type of health care coverage. For small business employees, the numbers are even more grim. Nearly 38% of all workers are employed by a small business, and less than 2/3 of these companies offer any Duons sale , top quality and 100% same as the original. health benefits to their employees. From 2000-2005, it has been estimated that nearly 266,000 companies dropped their health care coverage and 90% of those firms had less than 25 employees.
The rising cost of health insurance premiums is another important factor why so many companies do not offer employee coverage. While inflation has risen annually at about 2.5%, the cost of health insurance premiums for small businesses has escalated at a dramatic 12% annually! If employees are fortunate enough to be offered health care coverage through their job, many times they simply cannot afford to pay their portion of the premiums. It’s estimated that an employee’s share of family coverage has increased 120% over the past few years so it is no wonder that many employees are choosing to be uninsured rather than contribute such a large portion of their paycheck towards premiums.
Individuals who do not get their health insurance through their employer generally have to purchase it on their own. There are many challenges to extending coverage to individuals and small groups. In addition to having to pay more for non-group insurance, high-risk applicants, such as those with pre-existing conditions, are sometimes offered limited policies or simply denied coverage. Others find the application and enrollment procedures too confusing or cumbersome. Many lower-income people who are eligible for Medicaid or health insurance subsidies fail to insure themselves, deterred by factors such as lack of knowledge of their eligibility, transportation costs, and language or cultural barriers.
Coverage can be unstable during many of life’s transitions. A person’s ability to keep employer-sponsored health care coverage can be disrupted by many factors- such as the employer no longer offering coverage, a reduction in number of hours worked, an increase in the amount of employee’s contribution, becoming self-employed, retirement, or divorce.
The Dangers of Being Uninsured for Both Individuals and Families
The lack of health care coverage compromises the well-being and health of the uninsured because they often do not receive the routine preventative care and treatments that someone who has insurance will seek out. Also, when they are finally seen (and many times this is an emergency visit) their disease will have progressed to a much more advanced stage and once this diagnosis is made, they tend to receive less therapeutic care and have higher mortality rates than insured individuals. Uninsured children are much less likely to have well-child checkups throughout the year and this also means they do not receive the adequate immunizations needed.
Many uninsured persons are required to pay for services “up front”- even before the service is rendered. If they are not able to pay the full medical bill in cash at the time of the actual service, they can be denied treatment (except in the case of a life-threatening situation). About 20 % of uninsured people (compared with 3% of those with coverage) say their usual place to go for health care is the emergency room.
Over one-third of those people without health care coverage have problems paying their medical bills. Many of these bills end up being turned over to a collection agency and the amount of some of the medical expenses can be so high that it forces many working-class families into bankruptcy. Nearly 25% state that paying for medical expenses has caused them to significantly alter their lifestyle.
The Additional Costs Created by the Uninsured
It’s not hard to see the connection between the vast number of uninsured Americans and the rising cost of health care services. Hospitals alone provide nearly $34 billion of uncompensated services every year. Much of this is because uninsured people tend to rely on emergency treatment as their only source of healthcare. This has serious economic implications since the cost of treating people is much higher in the emergency room than in an outpatient clinic or private medical practice. The uninsured are also more likely to be hospitalized due to a condition which could have been avoided with routine medical visits and/or screenings. The average cost of this hospitalization is estimated to be $3,300. Another $26 billion annually is paid out-of-pocket by those who lack health care coverage and a whopping $37 billion is paid by public and private payers for health services for the uninsured.
What Need to be Done to Save Lives and Money
The impact of having no health care coverage is severe- both for the uninsured and for society as a whole. So many uninsured individuals postpone getting needed medical treatment which results in a higher mortality rate and billions of dollars lost, not just in productivity but also in increased expenses to the healthcare system, which in turn affects EVERYONE.
The lack of health insurance continues to disproportionately affect poor and near-poor people. 70% of the uninsured have household incomes below the national median. But contrary to public perception, many of these low-income individuals are not covered by Medicaid. Some are ineligible for publicly supported funds because they do not have children. Others earn more than the eligible income threshold, but not enough to afford private insurance.
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The lack of affordable health insurance is also a growing cause of concern for the middle class. Because an increasing number of self-employed and contractual workers lack a source for health insurance, the need for individual and small-group insurance markets will need to grow substantially. Many feel the federal government needs to play a larger role inDuons sale top quality and 100% same as the original. helping to offset the enormous cost of health care coverage. Under a reinsurance plan, the government would assume most of the costs of the patients with the highest medical expenses in the small-group and individual health insurance markets, above $50,000 a year, for example. Because insurers would no longer bear the entire risk and financial burden of enrolling customers with very costly medical needs, they could charge lower insurance premiums across the board. Lower premiums would help stabilize the market and bring in more young and uninsured individuals, thereby reducing the risk of the entire pool and ultimately salvaging private health insurance as the backbone of our health insurance system.
It is abundantly clear that every American deserves to have access to affordable, quality health insurance. No one should be forced to forego checkups and treatments due to a lack of funds. A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable and helpless individuals… we