Bad Economy Hits Health Care

The nations large health insurers are losing members at a rapid rate and WellPoint, the country's largest health insurer said it lost nearly 500,000 members since December. Wellpoint analyzed the decline and said it lost to layoffs or workers otherwise opting out of employer coverage.

Kaiser estimates that of the nine million people expected to have lost employer-sponsored health coverage since December 2007, about four million of them currently are uninsured. United Health reported a 900,000 drop in the number of people enrolled since first quarter. (from Wall Street Journal)

When people get laid off, they have the option of continuing insurance for themselves and their dependents by self-paying under COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). Within 30 days they must apply for COBRA and the insurance covers for 18 months. The employee (now no longer with a job) pays the entire premium plus 2%.

The President's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allows a premium reduction for anyone who was laid off between September 1,2008 and December 31, 2009. Those people can pay only 35% of the premium cost for up to 9 months. (No refunds if you have been paying the full amount).

If the company went bankrupt or discontinued health coverage, there is no COBRA available.

Hospitals and physicians are all seeing more patients without insurance of any type and elective surgery and preventive doctor visits are on the decline. COBRA insurance is extremely expensive and people without an income are often unable to pay $500 - $1200 a month for health insurance. It is not a surprise that the ranks of the uninsured are rising rapidly.

The way our nation deals with health, costs, and health insurance is not sustainable and must change.


Health Advocate said…
Bad for people who cannot afford to buy medicine for their own.. Government should find ways to raise fund for health care. Where does all our taxes go? shared decision making
tracy said…
Sometimes, being insured isn't that having to pay the deductable while the uninsured patients get off scott free. i've "been there".
Healthnut said…
It's a tough situation all around. Hospitals are reducing staff as well.

Here's an article about several people finding limited options after their job losses.
More should be done in the area of prevention as well.

There are not always easy answers. However, if people do things they can control, like make better food choices, go for daily walks and don't smoke, that can go a long way towards good health.


Eat Well. Live Well.
Imee said…
It really bothers me how money affects everything--even the health of people. Health care, insurance, medicine, hospitalization, etc = they all cost money. A commercial from over here even had a famous storyline, that getting sick is strictly forbidden because of how expensive it can get.
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