Michelle Singletary shares her perspective on why the plight of the American uninsured affects all of us in her column for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, KY:
In pure and simple terms, the unpaid balances do not disappear. Instead, they get added to the balances paid by those with insurance. It is not exactly a slow process either. Singletary reports an increase of 78% in family premiums just since 2001!
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.
She also explodes the myth that the uninsured are mostly poverty stricken. According to her reports, eight out of ten are employed, often at multiple jobs just trying to make ends meet. They are workers who fulfill important roles in our communities as caregivers and in small businesses.
The plight of the uninsured does not occur in a vacuum. Its economic impact alone touches every American in every socio-economic strata.
SOURCE: "Health-care insurance gaps affect all of us" 03/30/08
Photo courtesy of fabio, used under its Creative Commons license