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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Health Coverage Still Tough To Get For Individuals

Rachel Bates

Staff Writer

A recent report released by Commonwealth Fund, a health care advocacy group, found that nearly three-quarters of Americans who tried to buy insurance on the individual market in the last three years faced obstacles that prevented them from getting affordable coverage. More than one-third said they were turned down, charged a higher premium, or offered a plan that didn’t cover a pre-existing condition.

To make matters worse, the economic slump we’ve been in over the last few years has caused the number of uninsured to rise: Most Americans get health coverage through their employers, and as millions have lost their jobs, they have also lost their health coverage.

In 2010, about 52 million people living in the United States went without health coverage for some amount of time. This is much higher than in 2001, when 38 million people went without coverage. The report also found that of the 43 million adults who lost their jobs within the last 2 years, about 9 million became uninsured. Those who did not become uninsured were fortunate to either receive coverage through a spouse or from another source.

In a telephone conference with reporters, Davis said that the report, “tells a story of a continuing deterioration of health care accessibility, efficiency, safety, and affordability over the past decade despite the fact that we spend more than any other country on health care.” When the law’s coverage requirements and new insurance exchanges for purchasing health plans go into effect in 2014, we should see major improvements in our health care system. According the report,

Once the law is fully implemented in 2014, nearly all of the 52 million currently uninsured American adults, including those who became uninsured during the recession, will have access to comprehensive health insurance through a substantial expansion in eligibility for Medicaid, subsidized private plans through new state health insurance exchanges, and new consumer protections for private coverage.

The constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is currently being challenged in the courts. The cases will likely end up in the Supreme Court, where a final decision will be made. However, with so many uninsured people, we cannot afford for this law to be overturned. We must continue fighting to preserve it, so that health coverage will be available to all Americans.