Insurance has become one of the most important forms of securities in the US. Health insurance being the most prominent concern, approximately 46 million people are uninsured in the United States. The question is, what is the story behind this situation, and what next?
The history of people being uninsured in the US is directly linked with its causes. The causes being several provide a background as to why so many people are without health insurance. One of the basic causes that tell us about the roots of this problem is the scenario of immigrants in the United States. The US has been dealing with illegal immigrants for generations now. These immigrants, mostly coming in with just clothes on their back, have no money and often take up meager jobs that pay minimum wages. Such people even after getting settled have lower chances of ever being able to afford health insurance. Therefore the Hispanic population makes up a great percentage of the uninsured. Another linked issue that comes under the concern for minorities, as well as economic issues, is the African-American community facing similar problems linked to the standard of living (Hadley & Holahan, 2004).
The other aspects of history are linked to economic concerns. Before 2007/2006 the US economy was in a better condition. The statistics of uninsured people in the US were lower than those today. It is reported that the economic downturn has played a major role in the numbers of the uninsured. experts say that with an inflation rate of just 1%, the population increase in the uninsured segment has increased by 1.1 million. That shows that these post-2007 numbers have been fueled by the US economic downturn.
A major 56% of the uninsured population is uninsured because of the lack of finances to afford it, the rest are made up of those who are eligible for insurance and those who can afford but choose not to be insured (nearly one-fifth). Therefore offering incentives to avail health insurance facilities could significantly lower the uninsured numbers as well.
Several steps are planned to be taken to counter this problem. Under the new US administration, President Obama has outlined some measures that will benefit the uninsured. Some of the initial steps include charging a higher premium for medical benefits from people from a higher income bracket. Apart from that, Obama has announced a cut in federal payments to drug companies, hospitals, and insurance firms to attract more from the uninsured segment (Robert).
Other future benefits include $6 billion in funding for cancer research and the development of low-cost alternatives for expensive drugs that people can afford in these tough economic times. Under Medicaid, President Obama also plans on extending family-planning services and facilities to people from lower-income brackets and improving accessibility for them. As far as the uninsured are concerned, plans and proposals are underway. These would be based on price cuts on the drugs bought by insurance companies such as Medicaid from drug companies. Obama wants the discount is given to Medicaid to be increased by 7%, something the drug companies are resisting for now. Also, by cutting payments to mediocre companies, President Obama plans to save millions of dollars in the coming years and utilize them for providing health benefits to those who cannot afford them (Robert).
- Byrd, W. & Clayton, L. An American Health Dilemma: Race, medicine, and health care in the United States 1900-2000. Published by Routledge. (2002).
- Hadley, J. & Holahan, J. “The Cost of Care for the Uninsured: What Do We Spend, Who Pays, and What Would Full Coverage Add to Medical Spending?” Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.
- Zieger, A. “Study: 60 percent of personal bankruptcies fueled by medical bills”. FierceHealthcare.
- “ONE NATION, UNINSURED: Why the U.S. Has No National Health Insurance.” Kirkus Reviews 73.4 (2005): 218-218. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation].
- Robert, Pear. Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care. 2009. Web.