Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Health Insurance Affordability: Little to None

President Bush will likely oversee the 9-9 health insurance debacle in America, nine million additional uninsureds, plus nine million with less than optimal coverage. Already over 7,000,000 Americans lost health insurance, while George W. occupied the White House. I'm predicting a banner final year with nearly 2,000,000 more losing coverage.

The New York Times reported the number of underinsureds, those at risk for bankruptcy should a major health condition arise, grew from 16 million in 2003 to 25 million in 2007. I predicted a major increase in the underinsureds when employers switched to high deductible health plans while choosing not to fund their employees' health savings accounts.

Today, Presidential hopeful Barack Obama delivered meals to hospital patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. With more and more uninsured and underinsured Americans postponing care due to lack of coverage, what will be the long term consequences? Studies show it will result in more preventable emergency room visits and early patient deaths. The Bush team knew this quite well as it sat on its hands for eight years.

More sleight of hand awaits as a bipartisan group of Congress persons aim to jettison the cost of health insurance onto the individual citizen. Employers are salivating to ditch that pesky health insurance benefit and their legislative lackeys aim to please. Unions joined the effort to have relevance as a huge health insurance group purchaser, so no one is on the individual citizen's side.

However, if Barack delivers one of those yummy hospital meals to your room, please tell him that all Americans need coverage and everyone needs to fund the system based on ability to pay. That means those with more, pay more.

It also means an end to the 15% annual returns for health insurance companies. I know that will be the hardest pill to swallow. Who will Barack listen to more, the sick patient getting the warm tray or his VP selection chair (who sits on the board of UnitedHealth Group)? And I know who isn't getting over $300,000 a year in consulting fees from quasi-governmental Fannie Mae.

It remains to be seen whose tray Barack will carry. Stay tuned!

No comments: