The great debate during the health care reform discussion was universal coverage versus cost. We started the journey reforming health care (and presumably the system surrounding it) and ended up with insurance reform. Somewhere between we lost sight of the real problem, cost. While it may have taken a bit longer to reach our goal, the goal would have been more sustainable if we had tackled the tough issue of health care costs rather than mask the problem as high premiums.
A new report from the Employee Benefits Research Institute again shows that the number one reason workers do not have health insurance is the cost (which reasonably could also be the cause of many employers not offering coverage (or sadly dropping it). Except for the Americans who will receive a government subsidy to artificially make health insurance “affordable” (to them at least), what have we accomplished in the long run? Actually, many of the PPACA changes increase costs for those with health insurance, but you already knew that.
The word unsustainable, is in vogue these days. Now it has another application.
The percentage of uninsured workers reporting cost as a reason for not having coverage was for the most part unchanged during 2007, staying at around 85 percent. It dropped to about 77 percent by May 2008, and has increased since then, according to the study in the May 2010 EBRI Issue Brief, available at www.ebri.org
Reasons Why Uninsured Workers Do Not Have Health Insurance, Wage and Salary
Workers Ages 18–64, Monthly Average, January 2007—March 2009
|Too expensive, can’t afford health insurance||84.5%|
|No health insurance offered by employers of self, spouse, or parent||29.8|
|Not working at a job long enough to qualify||9.2|
|Job layoff, job loss, or any reason related to unemployment||2.0|
|Not eligible because working part time or temporary job||3.7|
|Have been healthy, not much sickness in the family, haven’t needed health insurance||3.3|
|No longer covered by parents’ policy||1.1|
|Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates from Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2004 and 2008 Panels.