Another factor that drives the increase of uninsured is increasing unemployment rates. It is estimated that each one percent rise in the unemployment rate will result in an additional 1. 1 million people without health insurance (Kaiser Family Foundation). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of January, 2009 the unemployment rate has risen by 2. 7 percentage points over the previous 12 months. This would equate to an additional 2. 97 million uninsured Americans just due to unemployment in the last year.
Although federal law requires employers to offer continued medical coverage to employees through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the employee is required to pay the full cost of insurance premiums and may be assessed up to a 2 percent fee on top of those premiums. The average unemployment benefit is just $1,278 per month while the average COBRA premium for a family of four is $1,069 per month (Graham). For families where the primary breadwinner loses their job it is unreasonable to think that they can spend nearly 84 percent of their unemployment benefits on medical insurance alone.
Immigration is also a factor leading to the increased uninsured rate. The Employee Benefit Research Institute notes that immigrants are more likely to be uninsured than naturally born citizens. This is partly due to the fact that “immigrants are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs, in small firms, and in service or trade occupations, jobs that are less likely to offer health benefits. ” Additionally, there are restrictions that limit the ability of immigrants to obtain health insurance from publicly funded programs.
In 2006, more than 46 percent of foreign-born non-citizen immigrants were uninsured compared to 19 percent of foreign-born naturalized citizens and only 15 percent of native-born citizens (Fronstin). According to the US Census Bureau, in 2007 the proportion of the foreign born population without health insurance was nearly two and one-half times greater than that of the native born U. S. citizens. The United States is currently unable to cover all uninsured through government funded programs. Most of these programs have restricted access and are limited to the elderly, disabled, children, veterans and some very limited access for the poor.
Although programs have been expanded over the past decade to help buffer against job losses, only the poorest of adults will qualify for coverage. In 2007 an adult with a family of three working full time for minimum wage could not qualify for medical coverage under Medicaid in 29 states (Kaiser Family Foundation). In addition, coverage in most states is limited to only those with children and childless adults are excluded unless they have some sort of disability. (This is a good argument. ) The U. S. government is expected to increase health-care related spending to $2.
5 trillion dollars in 2009 to off-set the loss of coverage for some who are expected to lose private insurance. This is projected to be an astounding 17. 6 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) for the year and it still does not cover all of the uninsured. This level of government spending is not sustainable because long-term projections (2008 through 2018) show that health care spending will increase at an average rate of 6. 2 percent per year while the GDP will only increase by 4. 1 percent over the same time period (Pugh).
As our nation continues to lose ground, cuts in government funded health care programs or major health care reform must be considered. In we remain on our current path the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund will be insolvent by 2016. There is a large portion of the “baby-boomer” population fast approaching retirement and Medicare eligibility. We must find a way to ensure that those Americans who have paid into Medicare all of their lives will have health care coverage when they retire or we will be faced with yet another huge increase in the uninsured population.
It is unconscionable to think that in the land of opportunity so many people are going uninsured and unable to afford health care. The problem is vast and the causes are complex. Health care reform was a cornerstone of recent political campaigns and continues to be a focus of President Obama. The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that do not guarantee that all citizens have health care coverage. In addition, we exceedingly outspend even those nations that do cover their entire population.
With the rate of unemployment climbing and a declining tax base our nation can not sit idly by and watch the further deterioration of the health care system while more and more Americans suffer without health care or incur further debt due to medical expenses. With a better understanding of the factors that are influencing the increasing number of uninsured we can begin to drive towards change. Review This is an excellent look at one of the major problems facing our country today.
The argument is well supported with facts and figures, although I felt the argument about how the U. S. compares with other countries in the final paragraph and in other spots could have been more well supported-how do they compare, what’s different, what’s the same, etc. The flow of the arguments was hard to understand sometimes, but overall everything was well researched and very objective. Works Cited DeNavas, Carmen, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Jessica C. Smith. “Income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States: 2007.
” U. S. Census Bureau. 24 Feb 2009 <http://www. census. gov/prod/2008pubs/p60-235. pdf>. Freking, Kevin. “Analysts say number of uninsured Americans to grow. ” The Boston Globe. 23 Feb 2009 <http://www. boston. com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/02/10/analysts_say_number_of_uninsured_americans_to_grow/>. Frostin, Paul. “The Impact of Immigration on Health Insurance Coverage in the United States. ” Employee Benefit Research Institute. 24 Feb 2009 <http://www. ebri. org/publications/notes/index. cfm? fa=notesDisp&content_id=3961>.
Graham, Bob. “COBRA costs claim majority of average unemployment benefits, report says. ” Insurance and Financial Advisor. 23 Feb 2009 <http://www. ifawebnews. com/articles/2009/01/23/news/health/doc496b5f4703480266196982. txt>. “Health insurance costs. ” National Coalition on Healthcare. 23 Feb 2009 <http://www. nchc. org/facts/cost. shtml>. Pugh, Tony “Recession to push more into public health coverage, analysts say. ” Kansas City Star. 24 Feb 2009 <http://www. kansascity. com/444/story/1050476. html>.