110 Alaskans Lose Health Insurance Every Week
110 Alaskans Are Losing Their Health Coverage Every Week, as the Steady Rise of Health Care Costs Drives More and More Working Families out of the Market
These Alaskans are part of a national trend that will cost an average of 2.3 Million Americans their Health Coverage each year between 2008 and 2010.
Rising like a deadly tide, escalating health care costs will have caused 17,360 Alaskans to lose their health coverage between January 2008 and December 2010. In that same period, the number of Americans without health coverage is expected to climb by an estimated 6.9 million.
Those troubling statistics are cited in a new report jointly released by the Alaska Center for Public Policy and Families USA, “The Clock Is Ticking: More Americans Losing Health Coverage,” which says the most important factor causing the loss of health coverage is the rising cost of health care premiums. Although the economic downturn is contributing to the problem, it is skyrocketing premiums, up 119 percent from 1999 to 2008, that continue to have the greatest impact on family and employer health care costs. In comparison, the Consumer Price Index, which tracks general inflation, rose by only 29.2 per cent in the same period.
The report is the first-ever Alaska projection of the number of people who will lose coverage between January 2008—the period immediately following the last Census Bureau report—and the end of the 111th Congress in December 2010. The report says, for Alaska during that time period, an estimated 17,360 people will have lost or will lose their health coverage. From 2008 through 2010 in Alaska
110 people will lose their health coverage, on average, every week;
480 people will lose their health coverage, on average, every month; and
5,790 people will lose their health coverage every year.
“The problem of access to health care is even worse than this data on the rising uninsured in Alaska is indicated,” said Lawrence D. Weiss PhD, MS, Executive Director of the Alaska Center for Public Policy, “because there are likely tens of thousands of underinsured families in Alaska who cannot afford to use the high deductible health insurance, or who do use it and who are still forced into bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills. We really have to think about the bottom line – real access to health care for everyone – not just access to health insurance,” said Weiss.
“Clearly, health care costs are out of control, and these costs are making health coverage increasingly unaffordable,” Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, said today.
“Employers that do continue to offer health coverage are being forced to pass on the rising costs to their employees by imposing higher premiums or copayments or by offering plans that cover fewer benefits,”Pollack said. “Other employers are choosing not to offer coverage at all because it is simply too expensive. Between 2000 and 2008, the share of firms offering health coverage declined by 6 percentage points, with small businesses being the most likely to drop coverage.”
“We have a wonderful opportunity now—with a broad consensus in support of action and momentum—to enact meaningful health reform. The longer Congress waits to act, the more Alaska families will lose coverage,” Pollack said.
The report is available at http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/health-reform/clock-is-ticking.pdf, and a copy of the report methodology is available upon request.