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Archive for Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unemployment boosts uninsured tally even higher in 2009

October 20, 2009

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About 27,000 more Kansans lost health coverage during the first eight months of this year because of job losses, bringing the total number of uninsured adults in the state to 293,000.

The average unemployment rate rose from 4.4 percent in 2008 to 6.6 percent between January and August of this year.

According to Families USA, a national organization for health care consumers, 62 percent of Americans under age 65 get their health coverage through a job — their own or a relative’s.

Therefore, job loss often means loss of health coverage because the government COBRA plan, which allows workers to retain insurance for 18 months after losing a job, and individual plans are simply too expensive, especially when coupled with less income.

Need for reform

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said this is why health care reform needs to be adopted. It will provide people who are unemployed more — and less expensive — options.

“The uninsured are less likely to get the care that they need when they need it, and they may face a financial catastrophe when medical bills start to pile up,” Pollack said.

Nationally, the unemployment rate rose from 5.8 percent in 2008 to 8.9 percent this year, adding about 4 million adults to the uninsured list.

Families USA now estimates that about 50 million Americans have no health insurance. In Kansas, the total number of uninsured is estimated at 340,000 with 13,000 in Douglas County.

Families USA released the numbers Tuesday in a report — “One-Two Punch: Unemployed and Uninsured” — based on a model created by economists at The Urban Institute.

Legislation pending

Pollack outlined some ways health care reform could help the unemployed gain coverage:

l He said all of the health care reform bills increase the eligibility level for Medicaid on a national level. So anyone with an income below 133 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid. For a family of four, that is roughly $29,300 annually. He said Congress is aware that they can’t fund the program the way it is now.

Currently, the federal government pays about 56 percent of the costs and states pick up the rest.

“The federal government is going to have to kick in considerably higher dollars than they do in the current Medicaid program,” Pollack said. “That certainly is going to happen, and my hope is that ultimately the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the costs. Right now, it looks like it will be in the high 90 percent in terms of the portion that they will pick up.”

• People with incomes between 133 percent of the poverty level and 400 percent — which is $88,200 annually for a family of four — could access coverage through a new marketplace called an exchange. He said people also could qualify for a sliding scale subsidy.

• The health reform bills include limits on out-of-pocket costs.

• The bills include measures so companies can no longer deny health coverage based on pre-existing conditions or charge a discriminatory premium based on such a condition. They also won’t be able to put an annual or lifetime cap on what insurance pays for health costs.

Issue hits home

Jerry Kemberling, 63, Lawrence, knows all too well the importance of health care reform.

He lost his job at Sauer-Danfoss in February, and he’s had trouble finding a job and health coverage.

He said the COBRA program was too expensive. It was going to cost him and his 62-year-old wife, who doesn’t work, $1,039 a month.

They looked at private health insurance, but it also was pricey.

“They were wanting $1,504 per month. So it’s just their polite way of getting out of an age discrimination situation — just pricing you out of the market. It’s a rotten deal.”

Luckily the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved in mid-February has allowed Kemberling to continue COBRA at $368 a month through the end of the year.

He fears he might become uninsured unless he finds a job with health benefits. He is taking 15 hours of college courses.

“You are basically told that you don’t count for nothing in society,” Kemberling said. “Congress had better step up to the plate and take charge of this situation because there are too many people in this country now who are being affected by this. It’s time that they do something with health care for the average person.”

Comments

Randall Barnes 5 years, 2 months ago

START SPENDING YOUR MONEY TURN THE ECONOMY AROUND GET BACK TO WORK AND BACK ON INSURANCE, I LOST MY JOB JAN1ST 2009 SO YES I HAVE ROOM TO TALK,AND YES I SPEND MY MONEY

Finn12 5 years, 2 months ago

Here's where Baucus' bill gets interesting: force those uninsured ppl to buy government health insurance! Poverty? Goes right along with gov't waste and inefficiency. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

puddleglum 5 years, 2 months ago

who cares if they lost insurance? they just aren't working hard enough. right? where's the great white hope lady again? she would know what to say.............

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Other reasons to demand National Health Insurance over any plan that still includes the insurance industry. Face it people without jobs or substantial retirement plans cannot afford insurance. Being under insured is a waste of money. National Health Insurance http://www.healthcare-now.org/

Doctors for Single Payer http://www.pnhp.org/

The global economy has cost upwards of 20 million USA jobs which included retirement plans,homes and medical insurance.

Think how many ways can someone suddenly become without jobs and/or medical insurance

• Home Loan Scandals 1&2

  1. Reagan – Bush http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. Bush -Cheney http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

• ENRON

• high tech scandal

• Global Economy = millions upon millons of lost USA jobs

• Iraq/Afghanistan Illegal Occupation = loss of good incomes

• Maddoff ripoff

• Book Cooking Scandal

•Wall Street crash anyone? During the 20th century, there were several periods lasting more than 10 years where the return on stocks was negative. After the Dow Jones stock index went down by over 75% between 1929 and 1933, the Dow did not return to its 1929 level until 1953(24 years)

*Medical Care Leads to Bankruptcy by the insured http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/bankruptcy_study.html#ixzz0IQKZLHHh&C

Does anyone believe that all of the white collar criminals waiting to steal retirement plans are in jail? Polticians and corp America are still sending USA jobs abroad.

National Health Insurance not only will encourage new industry,new small business ventures but will protect the middle class against financial disasters that millions upon millions had no part in creating. Social Security Insurance is a helpful partner.

Without the middle class the USA economy is doomed. Without National Health Insurance americans are left at the mercy of the white collar criminals and politicians.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Prudent reasons why National Health Insurance for All should be the choice for all in America: http://www.healthcare-now.org/ ( TRUE PUBLIC OPTION)

65% want citizen/taxpayer supported National Health Insurance plan: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/25/us/politics/25pollgrx.html

Never never never forget… It is the private medical insurance industry that cancels YOUR medical insurance AFTER taking YOUR MONEY for years.

Smart National Health Insurance WILL NOT cancel your coverage.

Bankruptcy due to medical bills CANNOT happen with Smart National Health Insurance.

Smart National Health Insurance = CHOICE across the board

Smart Medicare Insurance for All will not only improve our quality of life but also our wallets. Yes we would have more expendable cash for birthdays,Christmas, vacations and investments.

Smart National Health Insurance is fiscally prudent.

How much is the sick U.S. health care system costing you? http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

Bill Moyers - $380 million health care dollars spent thus far to stop reform
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2009/10/bill_moyers_michael_winship_in.html#more

Smart National Insurance ends deductibles and co-payments.

Smart National Health Insurance will save $350 billion annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs according to the Congressional Budget Office.

National Health Insurance does not remove competition from the actual health care industry. It will be alive and well. Profits will be based on customer service and clinic performance based on the clients experience. CHOICE returns to the clients ballpark.

Smart National Health Insurance = true public option http://www.healthcare-now.org/

Doctors for Single Payer http://www.pnhp.org/

How much is the sick U.S. health care system costing you? http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

Unions for HR 676 http://unionsforsinglepayerhr676.org/union_endorsers

Organizations and Government Bodies Endorsing HR 676 http://www.pnhp.org/action/organizations_and_government_bodies_endorsing_hr_676.php

commuter 5 years, 2 months ago

Merrill:

Thanks fir the posts- it gets me tired so I can go to sleep. Keep it up.

The issue with health insurance is the employer is paying a portion of the poremiums for the employee; so when you are no longer working for that employer, they do not pay their portion.

As for the age discrimination, older people normally have more health care costs, so their premiums should be higher. If this is fair, then why do car insurance for teenage boys higher than teenage girls? Most people need to remember that life isn't 100% fair.

If life was fair, then famous & rich people wouldn't get away with the things the do or have lower sentences than others. Roman Polanski wouldn't have been allowed to have sex with 14 year olds.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

What does health insurance look like in 2010? The increase is mind boggling to about 25%. 2008-2009 costs were hovering around $13,000 - $14,000 per year.

The new most expensive medical insurance in the world is coming in at $18,310 per year. What employer wants to take this on?

“In front of me I have a document from my employer that shows their cost for insurance.

Medical, Dental and Vision for the year 2010 my employer will pay $15,450. I will pay another $2860 out of my pay check. $18310 a year for insurance is ludicrous, and we wonder why so many companies are having massive layoffs. It is a real travesty that nothing is going to happen in the near future on health care.”

Flap Doodle 5 years, 2 months ago

What's the difference between HR 676 and a peach pit lodged in a mandrill's bowels? The peach pit has a chance of being passed.

bliddel 5 years, 2 months ago

All this nonsense about pre-existing conditions begs the question: "what is insurance?" Is it a hedge against an unpredictable occurrence? Or is it merely prepaid services?

Why would I buy health insurance until I get sick, if health insurers had to insure people who are already sick?

Why would I buy house insurance until my house actually caught fire, if casualty insurers were not allowed to do basic underwriting?

Yes, I'd like to go to Las Vegas, and only put coins in the slot machines when they are going to pay off. That is simply not realistic.

If you want health insurance, you need to purchase it BEFORE you get sick. Otherwise, pre-existing conditions must be excluded from your coverage. If you legislate recklessly, you quickly eliminate all insurers. Then nobody has insurance.

Other aspects of health care reform are another matter, but please learn why this basic underwriting principle is fundamental to the concept and viability of insurance.

Just because Obama doesn't seem to understand this, doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to understand.

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