Need for Health Policy Reform Shows in Numbers of the Uninsured
Although the new administration seems to have gotten the ball rolling as far as changes to policies go, the future is still looking pretty bleak according to many analysts. The number of uninsured Americans right now stands at 45 million people in 2009. If there aren’t significant changes made in health insurance policies, that number will skyrocket to 54 million uninsured people by the year 2019. That would mean that over 17% of our entire population would be without health insurance. In this post, we’ll look at what people are calling for in terms of change, and what members of our government have to say to the President.
What Are the Problems with Current Health Policies?
The increase in the numbers of uninsured would be driven by the costly insurance premiums whose prices rise faster than incomes can keep up with them. If people simply can’t afford to keep paying health insurance premiums, they’re going to let them go and join the ranks of the uninsured. Many health treatments are deemed wasteful and unnecessary, and people pay well over what they should for these services.
Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf said that any plan to expand health care would be dependent on the federal government’s ability to calculate risk; create subsidies that make health insurance more affordable for everyone; and develop an enforceable requirement that all U.S. residents obtain health coverage. Sen. Elmendorf added that beyond those three basic concepts, none of the health care overhaul proposals discussed by lawmakers in more recent years alone can solve the increasingly complex problems in the United States health care system. Elmendorf went on to say that no financial analysis organization, including CBO (Congressional Budget Office), can predict which types of changes will be able to generate savings and improve quality of care.
So what does all of that mean? It may seem a little concerning that no organization can predict which types of changes will be able to save Americans money on health insurance along with improving the quality of care. However, it’s my opinion that just because something can’t be accurately forecasted doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be attempted. As Elmendorf wisely noted, just the small policy changes that have been suggested in the past few years aren’t going to create the large scale difference that we need to see in the United States health care system. Lawmakers really need to put their heads together and start reaching for the moon-it may seem impossible but handling out small little changes hoping to solve what’s certainly a crisis is like trying to put out a barn fire with water from a thimble.
The reality is: being uninsured, whether because of becoming unemployed or simply not being able to afford the care needed, is a harsh reality for so many Americans.
photo credit: ProgressOhio and The Opportunity Agenda (in order, from top to bottom)