U.S. Health Insurance Industry

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SECTION II : U.S. Health Insurance Industry: An Historical Perspective

Social-unemployment/welfare system, society has gone into sedentary lifestyle, obesity

I.Brief Overview

In the past ten (10) years, health costs in America have soared to record levels while more and more Americans are uninsured and access to quality health care becomes more problematic. Unemployment rates, higher insurance premiums, a rise in chronic illness nationwide and less than effective attempts to fix the problem such as Obama care and changes in Medicaid only exacerbate the problem.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “poverty rates in 2010 were the second highest in 45 years. The level of persons falling below the poverty rate is second only to the level in 1965. The rate in 2010 reached a level of 15.1% of all American resulting in one (1) and seven (7) Americans falling below an income of $22,314 for a family of four (4)”(Trisi et. al. 2011, p.1). The report also stated that, “in 2010, the number and share of Americans who lived below half of the poverty rate ($11,157 for a family of four (4)) reached its highest level on record. Some 20.5 million people, nearly 6.7% of the population, had incomes this low” (Trisi et. al., 2011, p.1).

There is no doubt that numbers such as these reveal people without sufficient income which places a substantial burden on the national health care system. Obtaining adequate health care services goes by the wayside when meeting basics necessities such as housing, clothing and food becomes the priority for impoverished families. Moreover, such numbers places a tremendous strain on healthcare providers due to a lack of sufficient funding and increases insurance premiums for those who can pay to cover uninsured and underinsured Americans. Often times, persons without the ability to pay for healthcare consequently lack the ability to access needed preventive and/or quality healthcare services thus impacting the incidence of chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes and childhood obesity.

II.Rise in Uninsured and Underinsured Americans

In 2010, not only did we see a drastic number of Americans without the ability to pay for quality health care services, but 2010 also reflected a reduction in the number of persons on employer-sponsored healthcare coverage. According to The Economic Policy Institute (2011), “the recession ended in 2009, labor markets continued to deteriorate beyond this year. Unemployment rates increased from 9.3% to 9.6% in 2010 and long term unemployment rates (unemployed more than 27 weeks) rose 31.2% to 43.3% during the same period. Employment-based health insurance coverage for persons under the age of 65 years eroded in nine of the last 10 years including a .07% drop from 59.4% to 58.6% in 2010” (Gould, 2011 p.1). The also reported the following from 2000 to 2010 (Gould, 2011, pgs.1-4):

• 49.1 million Americans under 65years of age were uninsured. • Number of employer insured Americans dropped from 69.1% to 58.6%. • Number of employer insured Americans Under age 18 dropped from 66.7% to 54.6%. • Lowest number of Americans covered under an employer insured program was between the ages of 18-24 years • Rates for Americans under the age of 18 and 18-24 years would be much higher if not for the passage of healthcare reform and the Recovery Act of 2009.

With the decrease of persons covered under employer sponsored healthcare coverage, stress placed on public assistance and government-sponsored healthcare systems has only increased during the same time period. Theses figures also reveal that for many populations, stable health insurance does not exist for them. Today, unemployment rates stand at 8.3 % according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012. p.1 ).

Data extrapolated by race also shows more concerning trends. According to a briefing released by the U.S. Department of...
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