The Commonwealth Fund released a new report today documenting the difficulty American families face in keeping up with the ever-growing costs of health care. In 2007, nearly 66 percent of Americans “were either uninsured for a time during the year, were under-insured, reported a problem paying medical bills, and/or said they did not get needed health care because of cost”:
– Since 2003, the “proportion of adults with high deductibles nearly doubled.”
– Half of adults with low income lacked coverage at some point during the year.
– 41 percent: of working age adults “reported a problem paying their medical bills”
– 33 percent: “spent 10 percent or more of their income on health insurance and health care, up from 21 percent in 2001”
The high costs of the current system ration care. The 47 million Americans without health insurance and the 25 million who don’t have enough insurance, lack access to needed services and are often forced to use expensive emergency care as a measure of last resort.
But in Massachusetts, health care reform is reducing the number of uninsured and increasing access to care.
According to new data released by Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, “nearly three-quarters of previously uninsured Massachusetts residents now have medical coverage.” Half of the newly-insured “are enrolled in private health insurance and employer-sponsored plans” — coverage that does not cost the state money. Meanwhile, “the number of visits to hospitals and community health centers by the uninsured declined by 37 percent,” saving the state an estimated $68 million.
As Americans around the country are losing health coverage, Massachusetts residents are enjoying greater access and improved health outcomes. Opponents of comprehensive health reform should sit up and take notice.