Saturday, June 6, 2009

President Barack Obama Pleads For Action On Health Care

Americans spend more on health care every year than we do educating our children, building roads, even feeding ourselves—an estimated $2.6 trillion in 2009, or around $8,300 per person. According to the National Coalition on Healthcare, nearly 266,000 companies dropped their employees' health care coverage from 2000 to 2005 and for those employees that have not yet lost coverage the average employee health insurance premium is rising nearly eight times faster than income.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that, if Congress does nothing about healthcare, our annual health costs will soar to about $13,000 per person in 2017, while the number of uninsured will climb from 48 million this year to over 54 million by 2019. Already more than half of Americans say they have cut back on health care in the past year due to cost concerns. Roughly one in four of us say we put off care we needed, and one in five of us didn't fill a prescription.

Medical problems caused 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. in 2007, according to a study by Harvard researchers. And in a finding that surprised even the researchers, 78% of those filers had medical insurance at the start of their illness, including 60.3% who had private coverage, not Medicare or Medicaid.

Medically related bankruptcies have been rising steadily for decades. In 1981, only 8% of families filing for bankruptcy cited a serious medical problem as the reason, while a 2001 study of bankruptcies in five states by the same researchers found that illness or medical bills contributed to 50% of all filings.

This newest, nationwide study, conducted before the start of the current recession by Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler of Harvard Medical School, Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School, and Deborah Thorne, a sociology professor at Ohio University, found that the filers were for the most part solidly middle class before medical disaster hit. Two-thirds owned their home and three-fifths had gone to college.

Profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, while consumers paid more for less coverage. One of the major reasons, according to a new study, is the growing lack of competition in the private health insurance industry that has led to near monopoly conditions in many markets.

The report says such conditions warrant a Justice Department investigation and, says Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), provide compelling evidence of the need for a public health insurance plan option as part of the health care reform initiative President Obama and Congress are developing.

Schumer says the report from Health Care for America Now! (HCAN)
the starkest evidence yet that the private health care insurance market is in bad need of some healthy competition. A public health insurance option is critical to ensure the greatest amount of choice possible for consumers.
According to the recently released HCAN report, “Premiums Soaring in Consolidated Health Insurance Market“:
In the past 13 years, more than 400 corporate mergers have involved health insurers, and a small number of companies now dominate local markets but haven’t delivered on promises of increased efficiency. According to the American Medical Association, 94 percent of insurance markets in the United States are now highly concentrated, and insurers are thriving in the anti-competitive marketplace, raking in enormous profits and paying out huge CEO salaries.
These mergers and consolidations have created a marketplace where a small number of larger companies use their power to raise premiums—an average of 87 percent over the past six years—restrict and reduce benefit packages and control and cut provider payments.

These facts are at the heart of the current debate over health care reform.

President Barack Obama pleaded for action on his health care agenda, during his weekly radio and Internet address to focus on his domestic priority even while traveling overseas.

"If we do nothing, everyone's health care will be put in jeopardy," Obama said. "Fixing what's wrong with our health care system is no longer a luxury we hope to achieve, it's a necessity we cannot postpone any longer," said the president.

Read - How Pharma and the Insurances companies plan to kill the 'public option' in health care reform.

No comments:

Post a Comment