Does anyone here really think without national health care reform a magic day will come when the cost of insurance premiums will stabilize or decrease?
Here’s a fact that makes that magic day a real fantasy: Health insurance premiums rose more than 40 percent in Oklahoma over the last approximately eight years, according a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Nationally, the average increase in the cost of insurance premiums for a family plan was a staggering 81 percent, according to the report, which is titled “Barely Hanging On: Middle Class and Uninsured.”
This really isn’t news to those of us with health insurance. The cost of health insurance along with co-payments has increased on a steady basis through the years, even before 2000. We all know that. Meanwhile, we have less medical access and less coverage. The current system is broken and unsustainable.
In a press release, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, a physician who serves as president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, put it this way:
America’s uninsured crisis means that hard-working people with average incomes are being squeezed. The fallout from rising health insurance costs hits everyone. Employers must choose between either passing on costs to workers who cannot afford the increase and therefore drop coverage, or paying more for their employees’ coverage at the cost of creating and preserving jobs.
The report also points out that more middle-class people across the country are uninsured. In Oklahoma, approximately 40,000 more middle-class people are uninsured since 2000.
Lavizzo-Mourey also noted in the release:
The facts show that everyone is suffering right now, regardless of income. For middle-class families, changes in the cost of insurance far outweigh changes in income. That means a bigger piece of the household budget must go to insurance, or families have to go without coverage, delay needed care and face bankruptcy if anyone in the family gets seriously ill. Business owners can’t afford to shoulder more of the burden of health care costs. And states can’t afford the influx of laid-off workers into public programs. It’s a crisis in need of solutions.
The Oklahoman, of course, pretty much distorted the report in its coverage, citing Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland, who has criticized the current national health care reform proposals. The paper then published an editorial (“Risky Business: Caution urged on Reform Plan,” March 18, 2010) lauding Holland instead of directly dealing with the massive problem of rising premiums. In other words, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report was merely used in an effort of rhetorical subterfuge by the newspaper to criticize national health care reform proposals.
In discussing the report, the editorial, which omits crucial information about health care access and costs, made this argument about the increase in health insurance premiums:
Oklahoma actually had a relatively modest increase.
So, in other words, the premiums when up by 40 percent and everyone knows they will continue to rise, but, really, this is “modest.” Does Holland think that, too?