Health Care: Reality Check

The statistics on the cost of health care in this country are grim to say the least. Over the past eight years health insurance premiums for Ohio working families have increased 76 percent, outpacing median earnings by 850 percent, which only rose 8.9 percent over that time.

Even people with health insurance are paying more out of pocket for their health care. Nearly nine out of 10 people with insurance are spending more than 10 percent of their pre-tax income on health care costs. More than four in five people who have insurance are spending over 25 percent of their pre-tax income on health care costs.

Approximately half of all personal bankruptcies are due, at least in part, to medical expenses. And, among those whose illness led to bankruptcy, more than three in four had insurance at the onset of the illness.

Currently, insurance companies are governed by a hodgepodge of state and federal rules. Insurers are free to charge people more—or deny coverage altogether—based on age and health status. Without appropriate consumer protections to regulate the industry and promote competition between insurers, health insurance premiums are likely to continue to rise.

Yet even in the current economic crisis, the insurance industry is taking in record profits. UnitedHealth reported that their second quarter profits more than doubled compared to the same quarter last year, even though enrollment dropped six percent.

So what’s to be done? We want to hear from you! What are your concerns about health care coverage in this country? Have your medical bills forced you into bankruptcy or foreclosure? Are you having trouble paying your premiums, deductibles, copays or other health care costs? Do you have private insurance but your insurance company will not cover the care that your doctor says you need? Were you dropped from your insurance for any reason? Has the failing economy affected your health care decisions?

(Sources: “Premiums versus Paychecks: A Growing Burden for Ohio’s Workers,” Accessed at http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/premiums-vs-paychecks-2008/ohio.pdf; “Too Great a Burden: Ohio’s Families at Risk,” Accessed at http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/too-great-a-burden/ohio.pdf; “UnitedHealth 2Q profit rises, enrollment slides,” The Washington Post)

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