When the subject these days is health care, that dreaded six-letter "r" word that ends in "form" usually follows. Let’s skip that topic and its consequences. Instead, a few interesting insurance facts, courtesy of The Council of State Governments and its annual The Book of the States.
Top five states for percentage of residents covered by insurance: Massachusetts (97%), Hawaii (92.5%), Wisconsin (91.8%), Minnesota (91.7%) and Maine (91.2%)
Bottom five states for percentage of residents covered by insurance: Texas (74.8%), New Mexico (77.5%), Florida (79.8%), Mississippi (81.2%) and Louisiana (81.5%)
On a regional basis, percent insured are 88.6% in the Midwest, 88.5% in the East, 83.9% in the South and 82.8% in the West
Where people get their insurance: 53.7%, employer; 13.2%, Medicaid; 12.1%, Medicare; 4.9%, individual
People under age 65: 65% have private insurance and 17% are uninsured
Children under age 18: 58% have private insurance, 34% are on a public health plan and 8.9% are uninsured
What do all the numbers mean? Let us know your interpretation.
What do we know about the health care uninsureds in our country? That there are somewhere around 46 million people in this category, the national total is slightly over 16% and Indiana’s percentage is nearly the same.
Gallup, the polling people, have some more numbers. Their recent surveys tell us there are more uninsured in Texas, New Mexico and Mississippi (between 24% and 27% in each state) and the lowest totals are in Massachusetts (5.5% with its "universal" coverage), and Vermont, Minnesota and Hawaii (all in the 8.5% range). The Gallup results also show regional trends — lower numbers of uninsured in the Northeast and higher figures in the South and West. They link varying amounts of Hispanic populations as one of the reasons for the difference.
But there are more numbers that should not be forgotten: 45% of the uninsured are in that status for less than four months and only 16% are uninsured for more than 18 months. According to the Heritage Foundation, 20 million are in households with incomes more than twice the poverty level, approximately nine million are on Medicaid and nearly as many are illegal immigrants. The problem, experts say, is the lack of portability in insurance (those who change jobs often go in and out of the uninsured count). Policy changes regarding tax treatment and portability would be a huge first step in the right direction.
The point: Yes, the many Americans without insurance is a problem and part of the health care reform debate, but take a closer look at the numbers before forming your opinion on what needs to take place.
Does the collective health care predicament have you feeling as uneasy as Britney Spears at a Mother of the Year Award presentation? If so, you might note that uninsured adult Hoosiers may qualify for a low-cost option sponsored by the state. Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) is available to adults ages 19-64 who do not have access to other health coverage, earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level and have not had insurance for at least six months.
Coverage is provided by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and sponsored by the state. Also noteworthy is that individual contributions are based on a percentage of gross family income and employers who do not offer health coverage can pay up to one half of an employee’s required contribution.
For more information about HIP, call (877) GET-HIP-9.