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6/11/2005

Health Care for Uninsured Costs $922 for Each Worker with Health Coverage

Source: AFL-CIO

Workers with health care insurance are paying extra costs to cover health care for the 48 million Americans without insurance, according to a new report. In 2005, premiums for employer-provided family health insurance are expected to cost, on average, an extra $922, $1 of every $12 spent for employer-provided health insurance, to cover the costs of providing health care to the uninsured.

Paying a Premium: The Added Cost of Care for the Uninsured, released June 9 by the health consumer group Families USA, also estimates these added premium costs will rise to $1,502 in 2010.

“The large and increasing number of uninsured Americans is no longer simply an altruistic concern on behalf of those without health coverage but a matter of self-interest for everyone,” says Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director. “The stakes are high, both for businesses and for workers who do have health insurance because they bear the brunt of costs for the uninsured.”

Nation’s Cost of Funding Uninsured: $43 Billion
According to the report, health insurance premiums for family coverage in six states will cost at least $1,500 more in 2005 because of the unpaid cost of health care for the uninsured. These states are New Mexico ($1,875); West Virginia ($1,796); Oklahoma ($1,781); Montana ($1,578); Texas ($1,551); and Arkansas ($1,514).

Nationally, the cost of providing health care to uninsured individuals who do not pay for the care they receive will be more than $43 billion this year and reach nearly $60 billion in 2010. In 11 states, the cost of covering this uncompensated care will exceed $1 billion this year: California ($5.8 billion); Texas ($4.6 billion); Florida ($2.9 billion); New York ($2.7 billion); Illinois ($1.8 billion); Ohio ($1.4 billion); Pennsylvania ($1.4 billion); North Carolina ($1.3 billion); Georgia ($1.3 billion); New Jersey ($1.2 billion); and Michigan ($1.1 billion).

The largest number of uninsured individuals, 7.8 million, lives in California, followed by Texas (4.8 million); New York (3.5 million); Florida (3.2 million); and Illinois (2.1 million). In 2010, the number of Americans who will be uninsured for the entire year will be nearly 53 million, the report says.

“This report underscores the importance of strengthening and protecting public programs such as Medicaid that are the health safety net for millions of Americans,” Pollack says. Yet President George W. Bush has proposed reducing net funding for Medicaid by nearly $1 billion in fiscal year 2005 and by nearly $16 billion between 2005 and 2014.

“Medicaid cuts would only force more and more families into the ranks of the uninsured, thereby increasing insurance premiums for everyone who has health coverage,” Pollack says.

Most of the uninsured are workers and their family members who do not participate in employer-provided insurance plans, forcing employees to seek public health care assistance. For example, a
congressional study estimated that each Wal-Mart store costs taxpayers an average $108,000 a year for its workers’ children who are enrolled in state children’s health insurance programs.

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