As the health care debate raged onwards in 2009, the number of uninsured American adults rose by 3 million from 2008. Overall, approximately 46.3 million people in this country do not have health insurance covered. In Texas, over one out of every four people was uninsured in 2009, compared to the 15.4 percent nationally.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey found that almost 60 million people went without health insurance for at least part of the year, and 33 million of the uninsured had gone without for over a year. People who were fortunate to keep their private coverage ended up paying more, while high-deductible plans also grew in popularity—especially among people who purchase their own health insurance plans.
Fewer children are going without health insurance plans because they are enrolled in public policies. See my previous article onCHIP and enrollment strategies the government may be using to get more kids into the program. However, almost one third of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 did not have health insurance, the highest percentage of any other age group. Still, the fact that the ranks of the uninsured actually expanded in 2009 are worrisome to me.
Although individuals can still pay out of pocket for services, health insurance remains the most crucial portal to receiving adequate health care. People who are enrolled in health insurance plans, regardless of the level of coverage, have far more access to preventative medical services. There is no denying that adequate medical care is expensive—rising medical costs in addition to the economy make insurance critical to obtaining health services. If you are uninsured, you are more apt to delay health care until your illness is severe. According to research by the Harvard Medical School, around 45,000 Americans die every year because they are uninsured and therefore cannot receive adequate health care.
This study highlights the importance of health insurance in the United States today. For the most part, people without health insurance are more likely to have lower incomes, and face an uphill battle when it comes to paying for care out of pocket. Increasing rates of uninsured Americans is undoubtedly linked to the recession, which keeps them away from receiving the care they need. The fact that so many Americans remain uninsured—whether by choice or by economic necessity—proves very relevant to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Escalating rates of un-insurance and skyrocketing medical costs are huge problems in the United States today.
When 2014 rolls around, enrolling the uninsured in new health insurance plans will be a daunting task. The Affordable Care Act will broaden insurance to over 30 million citizens, who will likely need a little prodding when it comes time to enroll. Canvassing campaigns in low-income neighborhoods aim at enrolling uninsured children in CHIP or Medicaid,working as a test run for the 2014 expansion of health insurance coverage.
As in my last blog about Massachusetts Health Care Reform, it is not the broader coverage that I am concerned about. Hopefully, the government will take cues from Massachusetts and ensure that the reform will not grow so costly that expenses outweigh coverage benefits.