HealthCommentary

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Americans Need To Stay Well To Get Better.

Posted on | August 27, 2020 | No Comments

Source: Commonwealth Fund 2020 Insurance Study

Mike Magee

In the face of the covid-19 rolling disaster, Americans without adequate health insurance are now closing in on 50%.

Relying on employers to provide health insurance has always been a bad idea. Lose your job/lose your insurance is crazy. That’s why no other developed nations go for it. As Warren Buffett says, its the “tapeworm on America’s economic competititiveness” restricting job mobility, productivity and efficiencies at every turn.

According to the recently released Commonwealth Fund study, in the first six months of this year, 12.5% of Americans lacked any insurance and another 10% had a period of absent coverage (a coverage gap). But what’s worse is that 21% were demonstrably underinsured – lacking basic benefits and hobbled by high deductibles and crippling copayments.

Over the past decade, many employers have purposefully shifted the financial risk to employees and with stealth degraded their offerings. Fully one quarter of all employers providing health coverage purposefully “under-insure.” Back in 2010, only 7% of plans had deductibles of 5% or more of their income. Now it’s above 15%. In 2010, 22% elected plans with base deductibles of $1000 or more. Now it’s a startling 46%.

Even before the pandemic – with its huge rates of unemployment and increases in mortality and morbidity – Americans couldn’t pay their health care bills. One in four with a job were dogged by medical debt. For the uninsured and underinsured, it was one in two.

As the pandemic hit, Americans tightened their belts, and checked their savings. But 37% said they had used up all their savings to pay their bills. Medical debt had already tarnished the credit ratings of 40% of Americans.

As Trump fiddles, and the pandemic spreads out-of-control, a quarter of our citizens already report problems paying for the basics – like food, medicines, and rent. With federal relief packages now in limbo, and the cold weather arriving (bringing seasonal flu into the mix), it becomes clear we are vulnerable as a nation.

There’s much to do. But none of it can be done if the citizenry is sick or disabled. We need to stay well to get better. And no one understands that better than employers. They need to come clean and simply say out loud, “We want out of the health care business.”

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