Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 15, 2008: Health care: Missing the basics

Posted on

Good grief: On top of the nearly 47 million uninsured Americans, a new report by the Commonwealth Fund indicates that the number of underinsured adults increased to 25 million — a significant jump between 2003 and 2007. If only this were a waning trend.

As it stands, nearly 42 percent of American adults are uninsured or underinsured. In fact, according to the report, “barely half of those with incomes of 200–299 percent of poverty were insured all year with adequate coverage.”

The underinsured in this scenario include the employed earning at least $40,000. Those workers have some kind of health insurance, but the cost of health care rises even as the number of services covered continues to get cut, making even basic care inaccessible to many. This means checkups are postponed, prescriptions are left unfilled and treatments are skipped in an effort to control out-of-pocket expenses. This is a recipe for worsening medical conditions, more treatments and greater debts in the future.

It’s important to be reminded just what a mess we’re in in terms of access to affordable health care as we weigh what sort of health care plans presidential nominees Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain promise.

Frankly, the Bush years haven’t been great. As a senior policy analyst at Families USA told U.S. News & World Report, family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance increased by about 90 percent between 2000 and 2007. We can’t afford to let the situation deteriorate further.

« Back to News