Array of Factors Will Contribute to Increased Loss of Health Coverage
More U.S. residents will lose their health insurance as the economy weakens, health care costs increase and fewer companies offer coverage to employees, according to a report the Institute of Medicine released Tuesday, Reuters reports (Dunham, Reuters, 2/24).
For the report, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the IOM Health Research Committee reviewed a six-part series that the agency published between 2000 and 2004 on the effects of a lack of health insurance on children, adults, families and communities (Skotzko, CQ HealthBeat, 2/24).
According to the report, many companies have begun to replace full-time positions with part-time, contract and temporary positions that do not include health insurance.
The report also found that increased health insurance premiums have prompted more employees not to participate in plans offered by companies.Â The average annual employee premium contribution for family coverage increased from $1,543 to $3,354 between 1999 and 2008, according to the report.
The economic recession and increasing health care costs also might make recent expansions of state health insurance programs, such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, unsustainable, the report found.
In addition, the report found that safety-net services, such as charity care and emergency care provided by hospitals, will not meet the needs of the increased number of residents who lose health insurance (Reuters, 2/24).
The report found that residents who have health insurance but live in geographic areas with high percentages of uninsured residents are more likely to experience problems accessing care, such as limited inpatient bed capacity and outpatient emergency care. In addition, insured residents of such areas are less likely to report satisfaction with the health care that they receive, according to the report (CQ HealthBeat, 2/24).
The report recommends that President Obama and Congress enact legislation to expand health insurance to all residents.
The report states, "There is never a perfect opportunity for reform. This is the time to act" (Graham, "Triage," Chicago Tribune, 2/24).The report adds, "The lack of health insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans cannot be ignored and should not be a chronic underpinning of American health care -- it is in fact treatable and indeed preventable" (Reuters, 2/24). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.