Sunday, March 30, 2008

Health-care insurance gaps affect all of us

Go to Courier-Journal original
WASHINGTON -- Maria Gomez knows firsthand the devastation that can hit families who don't have health insurance.

Gomez is chief executive of Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care in Washington, D.C. The clinic serves Latinos who have no insurance or are underinsured.

The fact that 47 million people -- 9 million children -- are uninsured has been one of the top issues in the presidential campaign. Equally troubling is this statistic: The lack of health-care coverage is most acute among Hispanics and African Americans, many of whom work in low-wage jobs without benefits or are employed by small businesses that don't offer coverage.

"Things are getting worse," Gomez said. "What we are seeing is a lot of people coming in who cannot qualify for government programs."

The cost for those with coverage is escalating in part because the number of uninsured Americans keeps rising, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a nonprofit organization that advocates high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Using data from the Census Bureau, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Center for Health Statistics, Families USA determined that the unpaid expenses for the uninsured added an average of $922 in 2005 to the premiums for employer-provided family health insurance. That extra cost could rise to $1,502 in 2010.

Increasingly, employers are shifting a larger portion of their health premiums to employees. You may be able to afford your policy today, but it's possible you may not in the future.

Since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 78 percent.


No comments: