Friday, June 25, 2010

The Number Of Uninsured Adults Continues To Grow

Healthcare reform with its expanded coverage will come none too soon, but can we afford it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the last 10 years, the number of adults in this country between 18 and 64 years old without health insurance has increased steadily and is now at 21%. This is an increase of 3 million over the previous year. The obvious cause for the increase, as was discussed in a previous post, is the number of Americans who have lost their jobs or at least lost their health insurance because of the recession.

Correspondingly, the number of adults covered under private health insurance dropped from 68.1% to 65.8% in the last year. This means that roughly 15% of our nation's population, or 46.3 million people do not have health insurance. What will this do to financial projections for the Obama plan for expanded coverage? These projections were shaky at best and certainly seemed underfunded. Its great to think that all of these newly uninsured patients will be getting coverage, but how will it be paid for?

For months in my webinar on healthcare reform I have been saying that much of the funding for this will come from payments to providers, particularly hospitals. My concern in that the hospital's portion of this may have just gotten bigger with the news of more uninsured patients. The financing for this will certainly be worth watching.

There is a little good news in the report though. Coverage for children has actually increased over the last 10 years. This is due primarily to expansions of public plans. But the result is that just over 6 million children (8.2%) are without coverage which is down from almost 10 million (14%) just 10 years ago.

As healthcare reform becomes fully enacted over the next few years, we will see all categories of uninsured patients drop. This is good news as long as we have the financing in place to achieve this without making our most vulnerable hospitals casualties of the reform.

More on this later.

Mark Brodeur

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