As Numbers of Uninsured Soar, Health Insurance Companies Plan Rate Hikes

The latest report from the Census Bureau, which shows a significant rise in the number of Americans living in poverty in 2009, is making news today. Less widely reported are the figures for those living without health insurance, which indicate that in 2009 there were 50.7 million uninsured or 16 .7% of population, up from 46.3 million and 15.4% in 2008. Kaiser Health News has a roundup of stories on the sharp rise in the uninsured. The details from the Census Bureau report are as follows.

  • The number of people with health insurance decreased from 255.1 million in 2008 to 253.6 million in 2009. Since 1987, the first year that comparable health insurance data were collected, this is the first year that the number of people with health insurance has decreased.
  • Between 2008 and 2009, the number of people covered by private health insurance decreased from 201.0 million to 194.5 million, while the number covered by government health insurance climbed from 87.4 million to 93.2 million. The number covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 176.3 million to 169.7 million. The number with Medicaid coverage increased from 42.6 million to 47.8 million.
  • Comparable health insurance data were first collected in 1987. The percentage of people covered by private insurance (63.9 percent) is the lowest since that year, as is the percentage of people covered by employment-based insurance (55.8 percent). In contrast, the percentage of people covered by government health insurance programs (30.6 percent) is the highest since 1987, as is the percentage covered by Medicaid (15.7 percent).
  • In 2009, 10.0 percent (7.5 million) of children under 18 were without health insurance. Neither estimate is significantly different from the corresponding 2008 estimate.
  • The uninsured rate for children in poverty (15.1 percent) was greater than the rate for all children.
  • In 2009, the uninsured rates decreased as household income increased: from 26.6 percent for those in households with annual incomes less than $25,000 to 9.1 percent in households with incomes of $75,000 or more.
  • These figures are sure to reignite the health care squabbling in Congress, and add to the Tea Party shrieks that Obamacare won’t cure the health care mess, which is now more of a disaster than ever. While their analysis is flawed, the Tea Partisans’ conclusion is, sadly, pretty much on the mark. 

    In the wake of health care reform, insurance companies are raising their rates–apparently, in preparation for the tepid new rules that won’t go into effect for years, and thus give the industry plenty of time to jack up their prices and protect their profits.  The Wall Street Journal reports that premiums for individuals and small businesses will go up in 2011, in some cases by as much as 20 percent. 

    Once the reform measures do go into full effect, the government is supposed to turn the 50 million uninsured into new customers for the price-gouging private insurance companies, which will enjoy no competition from a public option. As I have been arguing since this so-called debate over the future of health care began, it all looks like a sham exercise by Congress that will only end up extending the grip of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries in the health care market. 

    Any serious economic recovery will be stopped in its tracks by these numbers. And with more price hikes in store, God only knows what the 2011 figures will look like.

    3 responses to “As Numbers of Uninsured Soar, Health Insurance Companies Plan Rate Hikes

    1. Elizabeth Rogers

      This is America? It looks like we’re running faster and faster in a race to the bottom! No income, no job, no home, no health insurance, no future, no hope for so many of our fellow citizens. Despite President Obama’s efforts, our political system is utterly paralyzed. The likes of Rush and Glenn rule the radio waves. Women like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell don’t know enough history to recognize that the country their Tea Party is talking about “taking back” was a white male-dominated world in which they would not have been welcome as candidates for high public office. I remember those days. They don’t, and what’s even worse, they’re too dismissive of the “intelligent elites” to open a book.

    2. normancwinscott

      ” Despite President Obama’s efforts,” This line of reasoning is why there is a ” Tea Party” emergence! The Democrats of this great nation of ours voted in an inept , underqualified, overwhelmed, smooth-talking state senator from the most crooked state in the nation. Now , we as Americans have to correct this mistake!!!!!!!

    3. Elizabeth Rogers

      President Obama has not done everything perfectly and may have made some mistakes, but I credit him with avoiding another Great Depression. You would “correct this mistake” (of electing him President) by fielding candidates from the Far Right wing of the party that led the country into the recession in the first place? Let’s take a look at what he walked into. If I recall correctly, that’s the party of two unfunded wars conducted “off the books”, greed run amok aided and abetted by almost no regulation, plus tax cuts that the nation could ill afford and that helped to create the deficit. Based on the unemployment rate, one would have to conclude that the Bush tax cuts certainly didn’t unleash the entrepreneurial forces of American business–unless, perhaps, you happen to live in a low-wage, no-benefit, low living standards country with cheap, easily exploited labor.

      Regardless of what they may say, the Party of No is NOT on the side of middle and working class Americans!

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s