Posts about The Working Uninsured
By Susan Duerksen | November 30, 2011 |
Research shows more people uninsured in county, while outreach lags
As residents of San Diego County continue to lose health insurance, County officials could enhance their efforts to bring in federal funding newly available to increase coverage.
The Center on Policy Initiatives is calling on the County Board to re-examine its approach to the federal Affordable Care Act, in light of new research findings:
- Employment-based insurance is declining, leaving an additional 27,000 San Diego County residents uninsured in 2010, and pushing many thousands more into public, taxpayer-funded programs such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, CPI reports in The Uninsured in San Diego County.
- San Diego County spends relatively little on the uninsured, compared to other major California counties, and is lagging on outreach and enrollment in preparation for the new federal funding, CPI found in Improving Access to Health Coverage: San Diego County and Federal Health Reform.
“Counties are responsible for providing a healthcare safety net,” said Corinne Wilson, CPI research and policy lead. “The federal government is offering funding to strengthen those safety nets, and that gives the San Diego County Board an opportunity to benefit taxpayers as well as individuals who’ve fallen on hard times.”
As the Union-Tribune reported this week, the County has limited early enrollment in the new Low Income Health Program, instead transferring participants in from another program it opted to close. Because the closed program had broader eligibility standards, the change by the County will leave more people uninsured in the future.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, which will be fully implemented by 2014, an estimated 203,000 more county residents could be eligible for Medi-Cal and others qualify for additional public programs. However, decisions on eligibility standards and allocating matching funds are left up to county governments.
CPI urges San Diego County officials to gather input from a wide variety of community stakeholders on the best way to respond to the federal healthcare reform opportunities, for the good of community residents as well as healthcare providers such as hospitals and clinics.
If there is any universal agreement in the wide-ranging debate on the health insurance crisis, it is that the rising number of uninsured Americans is unacceptable.
Besides the moral repugnance at allowing people to get sick and die because they can’t pay for care, it’s widely acknowledged that the lack of health insurance for a portion of the population is a financial burden on the whole community.
San Diego County, for instance, spends more than $57 million a year to care for the uninsured whose medical problems have escalated in the absence of preventive care.
Hospitals bump up their rates to cover uninsured patients, and that in turn raises insurance premiums. Being uninsured is not just a personal issue – it’s widely seen as detrimental to society. Read More