04.29.08

Health Insruance Premiums Far Outpacing Incomes

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Health Care at 10:53 am by wcnews

This article in today’s AAS, Report: Texas insurance premiums jump 40 percent from 2001 to 2005, points us to a study that tells us what we already know. Health insurance premiums are rising much faster than incomes.

Texas families saw their health insurance premiums soar 40 percent in five years – 10 times faster than their incomes increased, according to a report being released today by a national foundation that promotes health care improvement.

Nationally, Texas ranked third – behind Oklahoma and Idaho – in premium increases from 2001 to 2005, according to the report on employer-offered insurance by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J.

Here’s the truly horrifying part:

At the same time, Texas ranked No. 1 in the percentage of residents without insurance. In 2005-06, that figure was 27 percent. The state had 5.5 million of the nation’s 47 million uninsured people.

Health care advocates said they were not surprised by the relationship between high health insurance premiums and a high number of uninsured people. But they said they found the difference between the growth of insurance premiums and the increase in the state’s median income over the same period – 4 percent – to be alarming.

“These are horrifying numbers,” said Regina Rogoff, executive director of People’s Community Clinic, which treats uninsured people in the Austin area. “This is, for many people, the bottom line of the crisis of the uninsured in Texas. The costs don’t go away.”

Increased income inequality in the US along with many being priced out of health care does not bode well for those who need insurance or the health insurance corporations. And of course this is having the effect we’ve heard about all too often. People showing up in the emergency room (most expensive care) instead of a doctor’s office (least expensive care), and those with health insurance are picking up the tab.

People without coverage often get expensive emergency room care, and those costs get passed on as higher premiums to people with insurance, Rogoff and others said.

Taxpayers also share the tab when hospitals and governments do more to help the uninsured, said Clarke Heidrick, a member of the Travis County Healthcare District board.

“For people at the lower-income jobs, it’s just not affordable” to buy health insurance, said Heidrick, who has proposed a regional, low-cost health insurance program for small-business workers.

A spokesperson for the health insurance industry gives us their side:

“Health care insurance companies are not making a fortune,” but like any business, they deserve a profit, said Carolyn Goodwin, president of the Texas Association of Health Underwriters.

Texans want health care on demand, which has resulted in an investment in new technology by hospitals across the state, Goodwin said.

Another reason costs are increasing is that 60 percent of uninsured Texans who are eligible for government-assisted programs are not receiving the help, she said.

“Without getting too political, I think the programs don’t have the appropriate outreach,” she said.

That’s very funny. First she shows the insurance Industry’s true colors and sense of entitlement, “they deserve a profit”. Nothing about the free market there. Then she blames the government for the problem, for not having “appropriate outreach” to those who need assistance. Did you hear that whore boy Gov. Perry?

Of course the TAHU and most, if not all, Republicans and many Democrats are still trying to find a way to prop up our rotting health care system and the corporations that make money off of it at the expense of people’s health. More need to start advocating for the solution to our health care problem.

2 Comments »

  1. kaseman1 said,

    April 29, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Um, excuse me, but when did “profit” EVER become an entitlement? Profit is a product that only comes when hard work and good service combine to fulfill a need or want. In fact, common sense will tell you that you WANT your insurance company to have a profit – else they would go OUT OF BUSINESS! And where would that leave you? I don’t think Carolyn meant that statement in the light that you cast it. Nor was she blaming the government for the problem. She was simply stating what is a part of the overall problem in healthcare delivery and financiing in this country.
    Folks, there is NO one-size-fits-all cure for this problem. That’s analogous to saying everyone who is sick is suffering from the same ailment – ridiculous. It will take several creative and unique solutions to tackle the overall problem of the uninsured in America. And I, like the Texas Associaiton of Underwriters, and the professionals that support it, believe a big part of that answer should come from the free-market system.
    Otherwise, if you want a healthcare system that operates with the speed of Congress, the efficiency of Medicare/Medicaid, and the personality of the IRS, then you know which way to vote this November.
    Kasey Buckner

  2. wcnews said,

    April 29, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Profit is not an entitlement, that was my point. And we can agree to disagree over what she meant.

    Your industry’s profits are shrinking as many more every day lose the health care they can no longer afford. Don’t bet on warmed over scare tactics regarding single-payer to carry any weight to those without heath care, those who had health care and were canceled, the many more that are under insured, and those drowning in medical debt and can’t afford to go to the doctor.

    People in this country need health care not another lesson in free market economics.

    This is America, and surely we can work out a system that covers all its citizens, like all the other wealthy industrialized countries in the world. I think for-profit health insurance has proven that profits take precedent over patient needs and it’s long past time to go with a system that covers every American and puts patients ahead of profits.

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