NASE News

Americans Cannot Afford To Wait For Health Reform, Study Says

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released a report that projects a staggering increase in the number of uninsured Americans over the next decade if federal health reforms are not enacted.

The report, compiled by researchers from the Urban Institute, found that inaction on health care reform could lead to the cost of health care for businesses doubling and the number of uninsured Americans rising to 65.7 million by 2019.

The study used a range of three economic scenarios, based on rates of income growth and growth of health insurance costs, to project changes in health care coverage and cost trends. Even with the best-case scenarios, these projections reveal the necessity of a federal overhaul of the health care system.

Individual and family spending on premiums and out-of-pocket costs could increase between 46 and 68 percent by 2019, while employer spending on health insurance premiums could increase 72 percent even in the best-case scenario. These rising costs could leave as few as 49.2 percent of Americans (down from 56.1 percent) covered by employer-sponsored insurance by 2019.

With many families being priced out of private insurance, spending on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program is projected to increase to $519.7 billion from $251.2 billion over the next 10 years. Additionally, models show that between 53.1 million and 65.7 million Americans could be uninsured by 2019.

According to lead author John Holahan, Ph.D., director of the Health Policy Research Center at the Urban Institute, families with moderate incomes would be the hardest hit. "Increases in premiums cause fewer employers to offer-and fewer employees to accept- health insurance coverage. If federal action is not taken, many Americans would lose their employer-sponsored insurance over the next decade and move to Medicaid and other government programs," said Holahan. "Middle-income families would truly be stuck - too well off to be eligible for public programs, but too poor to afford their own health insurance."