Raising Women’s Voices

One-Fifth of U.S. Adults Underinsured in 2007

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, Insurance companies by raisingwomensvoices on April 20, 2009

 

“Consumers facing increased medical expenses are likely to report decreasing their contributions to retirement savings plans (29 percent), taking on credit card debt (22 percent), and experiencing difficulty paying for basic necessities like food, heat and housing (27 percent) as a result of their medical costs” according to Community Catalyst’s report, When Coverage Fails: Causes and Remedies for Inadequate Health Insurance

The report discusses the ramifications of being under-insured, such as poor health and financial difficulties.  According to the report, 50% of bankruptcies in 2007 were the result of medical debt.  That same year, 25 million were under-insured–a 60% increase from 2003–meaning their insurance was not comprehensive, forcing them to forgo or delay medical treatments, preventative tests and doctor visits.   The report concluded that the federal government could help alleviate the situation by setting standards for coverage and limiting deductibles. 

There are many ways in which the term under-insured is used.  How does Community Catalyst define ‘underinsured’?  By analyzing the income of those with insurance and the out-of-pocket costs of health care they pay, and determining when those costs become too great of a barrier to overcome.  The Commonwealth Fund classifies individuals as under-insured when more than 10% of their income (which is 200% below the federal poverty level) on out-of-pocket health expenses, or whose deductible consumed 5% of their income.  The report found that families paid the highest deductibles, and those purchasing their insurance on their own (not through their employer) are more likely to be under-insured.

Patients with chronic illnesses forego treatment in recession

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, Insurance companies, Pre-existing conditions by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

The recession has left virtually no one unaffected, and those with chronic ailments are definitely no exception.  The New York Daily News reports that diabetics are cutting back on visits to the doctor, insulin and blood sugar testing, actions that could have lethal repercussions.  Adding to the severity of the situation, more individuals are being diagnosed with diabetes each year, with 1.6 million new cases in 2007.  Without insurance, the cost of care for diabetics can range from $350 to $900 each month.  Furthermore, the medications and treatments for the condition have declined. 

The New York Times recently published an article detailing the case of a man whose insurance company paid for the removal of his brain tumor, but not complete cost of the cancer pills that his doctor prescribed for his treatment.  The pills, Temodar, cost $5,500 for the first 42-day, then $1,700 each month thereafter.  In cases of cancer, oral drugs are quickly replacing IV treatments as the most successful options, but insurance companies and prescription drug plans often do not cover the treatment.  Only providing minimal coverage, these plan often leave patients to pay the majority of the bill.  As result, some patients are not able to receive the medications that they desperately need.  Medicare Part D’s “doughnut hole” is another factor contributing to the lack of access to health care and prescription drugs.  Not only do oral cancer drugs require a 25% co-pay, the doughnut hole ceases to provide coverage when health care costs reach $2,700; coverage is reinstated after beneficiaries pay health costs  totaling more than $3000 out-of-pocket.

Save 30% on Health Premiums?

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, Insurance companies by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

President Obama’s health care plan that offers  options similar to that of Medicare could save Americans up to 30% on their health care premiums costs. According to MoveOn.org: 

  • Health care costs are spiraling out of control. From 2000 to 2008, health insurance premiums increased five times faster than wages.
  • A public health insurance option would provide an affordable, quality alternative. Two new studies show that Americans could save 25% or more off of a traditional private plan. The New York Times says this would “keep the private plans honest.” They’ll have to lower rates and offer better value to compete.
  • Plus, a public health insurance option would be reliable coverage for all. Private insurers are notorious for dumping people with little notice. A public option would allow consumers who’ve been dropped—or just don’t like their current coverage—to switch to a steady public choice.

Join MoveOn.org and other health advocates and send a message to Congress, telling them how you could use the 30% savings.

States Cut Cost-Saving Health Programs

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, State Reform by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

In lieu of the budget crisis that our nation faces, many states are reacting by cutting health care programs.  While these cuts may offer a benefit in the short-term, the programs being slashed are ones that provide long-term cost savings.  According to Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 34 states have cut programs.

What are some of the real-life implications to these cuts?

  • States like Ohio that have had to reduce funding to child welfare are likely to see an increase of the number of children in foster care.  Ohio’s cuts have translated into a loss of 75% of its child welfare investigators.
  • California has eliminated Medicaid Dental Coverage for adults.
  • States like Arizona now have over 1,000 individuals who are forced to go without home medical care, who now struggle to perform basic functions such as bathing and domestic chores, which means many will enter nursing homes, an option that is more costly than home care.

According to the  New York Times, the hardest hit state has been Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has cut $1.6 million this year, and a proposed $3 million from next year’s budget.   States foregoing practices that are cost effective in the long-term and beneficial for well-being of its constituents.  Families in situations of child abuse and neglect, for example,  are now faced with 2 drastic options:  remove children and place them in foster care, or wait until a serious incident occurs within the home.

Political Power for the Uninsured?

Posted in DC Reform, Health Reform Policy Proposals by raisingwomensvoices on April 13, 2009

If the uninsured were an organized lobby group, Congress would have a tough time trying ignore their demands.  The recession has contributed to the increased numbers of insured, pushing the numbers to over 50 million.  UNINSURED

So what’s the problem?  Health care, accessing it and paying for it, are still regarded as private issues, rather than ones of public debate.  But what cannot be stressed enough is that health care affects us all. According to one writer of the Associated Press, “People who lose coverage often struggle alone instead of turning their frustration into political action”.

Health Care for America NOW!, (HCAN) a grassroots organization that advocates for quality, affordable health care for all, plans to bring more than 15,000 individuals to Washington, D.C. to lobby on the behalf of the uninsured.  Campaign director Richard Kirsch notes that many of the uninsured do not have the opportunity to partake in events such as the one being organized by HCAN due to fiscal and familial restraints, which is why it is important to have those numbers represented in health reform activism.

With a presidential administration committed to health care reform and advocates across the country working for quality, affordable, comprehensive and accessible health care–the time to act is now!

Will Florida Stop Charging Women More for Health Insurance?

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, State Reform by raisingwomensvoices on March 4, 2009

Are women being penalized for trying to be healthier people? 

When searching for an individual health policy, women will find that they are often charged more than men, even if they are within the same age and health bracket.  Why?  According to the insurance companies it’s because women use the health care system and its services more than men. 

One report quotes Mark Wright of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida says, “Among other things, women stay current on annual screenings, which tends to lead to better future health.”   The Florida Legislature is considering a bill that would end the gender-rating associated with health care policies.

How Many Are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 and 2007

Posted in Affordability, Insurance companies by raisingwomensvoices on July 21, 2008

In the Literature

The number of underinsured U.S. adults—that is, people who have health coverage that does not adequately protect them from high medical expenses—has risen dramatically, a Commonwealth Fund study finds. As of 2007, there were an estimated 25 million underinsured adults in the United States, up 60 percent from 2003.

Much of this growth comes from the ranks of the middle class. While low-income people remain vulnerable, middle-income families have been hit hardest. For adults with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level (about $40,000 per year for a family), the underinsured rates nearly tripled since 2003.

read_more: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=688615